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In-camera trial for Lakhvi, other 26/11 suspects in Pak

Source: PTI
February 15, 2009 16:59 IST
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Lashkar-e-Taiyba's operation commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and five other suspects in the Mumbai attack case have been sent to a 14-day remand by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court near Islamabad. The Federal Investigation Agency had sought the physical remand of the six suspects, the local Geo TV reported.

Citing unnamed Foreign Office sources, it said Rawalpindi's anti-terrorism court granted physical remand of the suspects into the FIA custody on Saturday.

The judge issued the order after reviewing evidence produced by the investigative agency against them, the sources were quoted as saying. The judge recorded the suspects' statements before sending them to physical remand, the report said.

Meanwhile, the 'Dawn' newspaper reported, quoting an unnamed security official, that the suspects, including Lakhvi, were produced before Judge Sakhi Mohammed Kahut of the anti-terrorism court at an undisclosed location.

The FIA is expected to submit a charge-sheet against the suspects at the end of the remand, it said. The agency has already conducted preliminary investigations into the case. Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, was arrested in December near Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Western diplomatic sources told PTI that Lakhvi, Shah and Sadiq were among the suspects being held by Pakistani security agencies. They had earlier been questioned by the Inter Services Intelligence  before being handed over to the security agencies, the sources said.

Lakhvi and Shah were held during raids by the Pakistan Army on LeT facilities near Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, in early December.

It is believed that the government has decided to try the accused in a special anti-terrorism court and the proceedings are expected to be held in-camera. Reports suggested that the trial could be held at the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.

This decision is believed to have been influenced by the close links that existed earlier between the LeT and the Pakistani security establishment.

Any disclosures about such links by the detained LeT suspects in an open court could prove embarrassing for the establishment, observers said.

On Saturday, Pakistani authorities kept the media guessing about the whereabouts of the suspects. A large number of reporters waited in vain for almost the whole day at an anti- terrorism court, where the suspects were expected to be produced.

Shahbaz Ahmed Rajput, an advocate who said he had been hired by families of the suspects, too made an appearance at the court and claimed the accused were in 'illegal detention'.

He also claimed that some of the suspects had been detained in November without any formal charges being filed against them. He said he did not favour holding of an in-camera trial. "The entire world is interested in this case and it is also a matter of the court's credibility," he said.

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