Pak Anti-Terror Court Frames Charges Against 7 Mumbai Suspects

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court on Wednesday in Islamabad formally charged seven suspects, including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, with planning and helping execute the Mumbai attacks, an action that came a day before the first
pak anti terror court frames charges against 7...
PTI November 25, 2009 20:06 IST

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court on Wednesday in Islamabad formally charged seven suspects, including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, with planning and helping execute the Mumbai attacks, an action that came a day before the first anniversary of the brazen assault. 

The court also declared 16 people, including Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist, as "proclaimed offenders". The crew members of the two boats that ferried the 10 attackers to Mumbai are among them, sources said. 

Anti-terrorism court Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan, who is conducting the trial at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi for security reasons, framed the chargesheet against Lakhvi, Zarar Shah, Abu al-Qama, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum. 

The court also rejected the bail pleas of some of the accused. The suspects protested as charges against them under the Anti-Terrorism Act and Pakistan Penal Code were read out, sources said. All seven pleaded not guilty, their lawyers said.

The chargesheets came after an agonising spell of delays with India accusing Pakistan of not being serious in bringing to book the perpetrators of the 26/11 attacks.

 Shahbaz Rajput, one of the defence lawyers, told PTI that the accused had pleaded not guilty as the charges against them were not backed up by evidence.

 Lakhvi and the six other suspects were charged with providing accommodation and training facilities to the attackers as they prepared for the assault, the sources said.

Kasab and nine others reached Mumbai through sea route on November 26, 2008 and targeted several places, including Taj Mahal Hotel and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, killing 166 people, including foreigners. 

The accused were also charged with arranging transportation, including boats, and communication equipment, including mobile phone sets and internet-based communication gear, for the terrorists, the sources said. 

The court scheduled the next hearing of the case for December 5.  At the last hearing of the case on Monday, the defence lawyers had contended that Kasab should be brought to Pakistan to face trial with the other accused. 

They had said that since Kasab is the lone surviving attacker and his confession to Indian authorities formed a crucial part of the case built by Pakistani authorities against their clients, he should be brought to Pakistan to face trial.

Reporters are barred from covering the in-camera proceedings of the anti-terror court and there was no official word on today's proceedings.

The indictment of the suspects had been expected for some time as the Federal Investigation Agency, which probed Pakistani links to the attacks, had drawn up its first chargesheet as far back as May. Since then, the judge has been changed twice.

The trial also became mired in confusion and controversy after the accused claimed the court had tried to indict them in the absence of their lawyers.

They filed a petition in the Lahore High Court, which said the anti-terror court could proceed with the indictment only after addressing the grievances of the accused. PTI

 
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