Mumbai: A top Pakistani court has allowed the examination of a boat used by the 10 LeT terrorists to reach India for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack, overturning an anti-terrorism court verdict which it termed as "flawed". "The Islamabad High Court has set aside the verdict of trial court (Anti-Terrorism Court) in Mumbai case for not allowing sending of a commission to Karachi for inspection of Al-Fauz boat used by Mumbai attack terrorists," Chaudhry Azhar, prosecution chief in the Mumbai attack case, said.
The high court described the trial court’s decision “flawed and not in accordance with law” and allowed the examination of the boat in the port city of Karachi. The prosecution had in May had challenged the trial court’s decision to reject its plea to form a commission to examine the boat Al-Fauz, used by the Mumbai attackers, so that the vessel could be made “case property”.
Al-Fauz is in the custody of authorities in Karachi, from where the 10 militants, armed with AK-47 assault rifles and grenades, had left for India to carry out the attacks that claimed 166 lives. The high court, however, did not specify in its order whether it is necessary to form a commission comprising prosecution and defence lawyers to inspect the boat.
“The trial court is likely to send court officials for the inspection of Al-Fauz since it has received no direction of forming a commission for the purpose,” another court official said. “The trial court will nominate the official(s) for the inspection of the boat in the September 7 hearing,” he said.
The trial court held a hearing in the Mumbai attacks case at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on Wednesday. It was informed that Pakistan had not received a reply from India about sending 24 Indian witnesses to record their statements. The court adjourned the proceedings till September 7. Pakistan’s courts are observing a summer break of more than a month and only very important cases will be heard during the vacation.
According to the Federal Investigation Agency, the attackers used three boats, including Al Fauz, to reach Mumbai from Karachi. It said the security agencies had traced the shop from which the attackers bought the engine and the boat, as well as its owner, while a bank and a money exchange company used for money transactions were also traced.
The 10 militants left Karachi on November 23, 2008. En route to their destination, they hijacked another boat and killed four of its crew. They forced the vessel’s captain to take them close to the Indian shores. The captain was killed when the vessel reached the Mumbai coast.
The Mumbai attacks case is facing inordinate delay as no proceedings have been held for more than three months. The case hearing is scheduled to be held once a week. Alleged Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum are accused of abetment to murder, attempted murder, and planning and executing the Mumbai attacks. Lakhvi is living at an undisclosed location after he was released from jail on bail a year ago. The six other suspects are in Adiala Jail. The case has been going on in Pakistan for more than six years.