Pakistan judicial panel cross-examines 26/11 witnesses in Mumbai

Pakistani lawyers, who are part of an eight-member judicial commission probing the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, began cross-examining witnesses at a local court here on Tuesday.


Nithin Belle

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Published: Wed 25 Sep 2013, 11:53 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 4:45 PM

The witnesses included a Mumbai police officer who had filed the charge-sheet in the 26/11 trial here, a magistrate who had recorded the confessions of Ajmal Kasab, the sole Pakistani terrorist to have survived the attack (and who was later executed following his conviction in the case) and two doctors who conducted post-mortem on the bodies of the nine Pakistani terrorists who had been killed during the operations.

The Pakistani judicial commission included four lawyers for the defence, two public prosecutors and two officers of the anti-terror court in Rawalpindi. An Indian additional chief magistrate recorded the evidence.

The magistrate’s court here, where the cross-examination was held, was off-limit for all except for lawyers, police and court officials who were connected with the case. There was a strong police presence around the complex.

Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who conducted the 26/11 trial, and now represents the Indian government in the present case, said the cross-examination would continue for a few days. Nikam had visited Pakistan earlier this year along with officials of Indian external affairs and home ministries, where the decision to allow the Pakistani judicial commission to cross-examine the witnesses was taken.

The Pakistani judicial commission visited India in March 2012 and had examined the witnesses, but was not allowed to cross-examine them. The anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi had then rejected the commission’s report and had insisted that the witnesses have to be cross-examined by defence lawyers.

The Rawalpindi court is conducting the trial involving seven accused including Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, who has been named as the mastermind behind the 26/11 conspiracy by Indian authorities.

Ten Pakistani terrorists sailed over to Mumbai and on the night of November 26, 2008, launched attacks in several places across the metropolis. They opened fire, killing railway commuters, guests at hotels and restaurants and members at a Jewish centre. Nearly 170 persons were killed as the terrorists, holed up in two 5-star hotels and the Jewish centre, held on for a few days.

National Security Guard commandos then managed to kill eight of the terrorists over the following days. Kasab and an associate had earlier been accosted at a traffic junction by Mumbai police on the night of November 26; while his associate was killed, Kasab was the sole survivor. He later confessed to the police and also unraveled the plot. —

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