Pakistan’s apex court dismisses Lakhvi’s plea for acquittal

May 27th, 2010 - 7:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry Islamabad, May 27 (IANS) Pakistan’s Supreme Court Thursday dismissed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi’s plea for acquittal in the 26/11 Mumbai attack case, saying it was not the proper forum to take up the matter as it was yet to be decided by an anti-terrorism court.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said Lakhvi could approach the higher courts after his case was decided by the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi, Online news agency reported.

It dismissed the petition of Lakhvi, the operations chief of LeT, after his counsel withdrew the plea.

Lakhvi and six other suspects are being tried by the anti-terrorism court on charges of planning and facilitating the Mumbai attacks.

Lakhvi had contended in his petition that the charges against him were based solely on the confession of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested alive during the Nov 26-28, 2008 Mumbai attack, and that the prosecution had no other evidence against him.

A court in Mumbai has sentenced Kasab to death for his role in the assault, which claimed the lives of 166 people, including 26 foreigners.

Senior advocate Rab Nawaz Noon, who represented the government in the Supreme Court, said: “Lakhvi’s counsel argued that Kasab’s confessional statement had no evidentiary value in Pakistan but the judges were not in agreement.”

The government also withdrew the petition it had filed in the apex court challenging Lakhvi’s plea.

After Lakhvi filed his petition, the Supreme Court obtained a copy of Kasab’s confessional statement to study it.

In his confessional statement, Kasab had named Lakhvi as the mastermind behind the Mumbai attack.

Lakhvi’s counsel Khwaja Sultan said the curbs on media coverage of proceedings in the anti-terrorism court should be lifted.

“The curbs on media coverage are not good. The media should be allowed to cover the proceedings in the Rawalpindi court,” he maintained.

He also pointed out that India had allowed the coverage of Kasab’s trial in the Mumbai court.

The anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi is conducting the trial of Lakhvi and the other suspects within the Adiala Jail for security reasons and media is barred from the proceedings.

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