On the fifth anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks, the new defence lawyer in the ongoing case here said on Monday that India had delayed the trial by not submitting proper evidence.
After the exit of Riaz Akram Cheema and the earlier lawyers for the defence, Rizwan Abbasi who is representing all seven accused in the case including Zaki-ur- Rehman Lakhvi, told a press conference that the case was already prolonged and he would approach the high court for expediting the trial.
Invitations for the press conference on Monday were also sent out by Jamat ud Dawa, whose founder Hafiz Saeed India believes is the mastermind of the attacks. However, Pakistan has said there is no evidence against him and the Punjab government funds his organization, which it says is carrying out social work.
The event was managed by a public relations firm AyeTee, with large banners raising ten questions on the Mumbai attacks which have not been answered by India.
While the hearing in the case continues on Tuesday, Mr Abbasi said no concrete evidence was provided against any of the seven accused in jail. He said the Indian courts did not allow the Pakistan Judicial Commission to meet or cross examine Ajmal Kasab or question his confession, which was retracted. He said his clients were in jail based on that single confession statement, which was not tenable in law since it was not subjected to a cross examination by the defence.
In addition, he said that India did not provide timely evidence and only sent dossiers which are not admissible in a court of law. Dossiers are just information, not evidence, he added. He said that evidence including Kasab’s photographs or supporting statements were not sent to Pakistan.
While the bail applications of his clients were rejected, he plans to wait for a few hearings and move the high court for an expeditious end to the trial which started in 2009.
Meanwhile the special public prosecutor for the Mumbai attacks case Chaudhry Muhammed Azhar said there was enough evidence in the case and some new witnesses were to be produced soon. Last week the defence had completed the cross examination of two witnesses who obtained deep sea fishing licences for the boats used by the ten terrorists to sail to India for the November 26, 2008 terror strike.
Two witnesses Saifullah and Omar Daraz were fishing harbour contractors who run a company that obtains licences and provides crew for other boats. Two boats Al Hussaini and Al Fouz were licensed from the company for the attacks. Mr. Saifullah was the accountant for the company and Mr. Daraz the owner. They got the papers for the boats in question from the competent authority under the company’s flag.
So far the cross examination of 18 witnesses has been completed and more witnesses have been summoned on Tuesday. There are more than 100 witnesses in the case, some of whom will be examined in the coming days.
The case is being heard at the Anti Terrorism Court in Islamabad after it was shifted here from Rawalpindi. It was filed in February 2009 and has been meandering since. There was a setback after Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, the previous Federal Investigation Agency special public prosecutor, was killed in May this year. There were delays after the court rejected the findings of the Judicial Commission’s visit in 2011, since it couldn’t cross examine the four witnesses in Mumbai due to permission being denied. This September, the commission’s visit was more successful and it cross examined some witnesses including the magistrate who recorded Kasab’s confession statement.
However India has been demanding a speedy trial in the case and says it has sent all the relevant evidence to Pakistan. This has been a sticking point in the dialogue process between the two countries.