ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court on Tuesday pronounced that all the findings of a judicial commission that visited India were illegal and could not be made part of the evidence against the accused said prosecution of seven suspects charged with involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
“All the proceedings and the report of the Pakistani judicial commission that visited Mumbai in March were “illegal.” said Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman – Judge of the Rawalpindi based anti-terrorism court.
The defense lawyers of the accused have contradicted the report of the Pakistani commission, saying it had “no legal value” as the panel was not allowed to cross-examine witnesses during the visit to Mumbai.
Khwaja Haris Ahmed, the counsel for Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi said, “The judge ruled that the commission’s report is illegal and could not be made part of the records for the case.”
Indian officials had said that cross-examination of the witnesses was not allowed in line with an agreement between New Delhi and Islamabad.
“The court has the right to examine whether the working and report of a commission was duly executed and in this case it ruled that the report was not duly executed. The report will not be read in evidence,” Ahmed said.
Chief prosecutor Chaudhry Zulifqar Ali had earlier told the court that another commission could be sent to India after ensuring that it would be allowed to cross-examine witnesses.
In response to this, Judge Rehman observed that if India and Pakistan could reach some new agreement that would allow the cross-examination of witnesses, the prosecution could move an application to send another commission to Mumbai.
The judge adjourned the case till July 21. Sources said the court’s ruling could have an adverse effect on the prosecution of the seven suspects charged with planning, financing and executing the terror attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people in November 2008.
The trial has virtually stalled since last year and the judge has been changed five times since the proceedings began in early 2009. The sources further said today’s court ruling could also affect India’s plans to send a judicial commission to Pakistan to probe the Mumbai attack.