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Pakistan seeks 'prime suspect' Kasab's custody

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
February 18, 2009 17:55 IST
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Identifying Ajmal Amir Kasab as the 'prime suspect' in the Mumbai terror attack, Pakistan has formally requested India to hand over the lone terrorist captured alive during the terror strikes, to facilitate successful prosecution of other arrested accused.

"The government of Pakistan has formally requested the Indian government to hand over the custody of Ajmal Kasab because he is the prime suspect and the rest of these suspects, they are abettors, they abetted the crime," Deputy Attorney General Sardar Mohammad Ghazi said.

Ghazi, who has been appointed the special public prosecutor for the trial of Pakistani suspects linked to the Mumbai attacks, said it would be difficult to prosecute the other accused if Kasab is not handed over to Pakistan.

"I am sure the Indian government is going to look into it, they are going to take a decision because without having the custody of Ajmal Kasab in Pakistan, I think it will be very, very difficult to prosecute the rest of the suspects," he told Dawn News channel.

Ghazi said he hoped to work in cooperation with Indian authorities to prosecute the persons arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of links to terror attack on Mumbai. "I am sure better sense (will prevail) and we will get the custody of Ajmal Kasab and we will be able to conduct the trial successfully," he said.

India has ruled out the possibility of handing over Kasab to Pakistan. After weeks of denial, Pakistan last month acknowledged Kasab as its national.

Pakistani authorities have taken into custody six suspects, including Lashker-e-Tayiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and its communication expert Zarar Shah, though their exact legal status and whereabouts are unknown.

An anti-terror judge remanded one of the suspects, LeT activist Hamad Amin Sadiq, to the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency for 15 days recently. Asked about his mandate, Ghazi said he would "be expected to conduct the trial of the Mumbai suspects and bring them to justice after...exchanging evidence (with) India and after talking to the Indian counterparts".

"Let me see what the evidence is like, we'll be expecting cooperation from the Indian side also," he said. "It is not a case which has taken place here in Pakistan. There are chains of events in India," he said, adding that Pakistan had been informed by the Indian government that there "are lots of suspects in India also".

"We will try to see what evidence India provides  us because the evidence on both sides is very important...on the basis of the joint evidence; we are going to bring the suspects to justice,." He added.

Ghazi said the Pakistan government had decided to conduct an in-camera trial because of security concerns about terrorist activities. "In order to make it safe and secure and free from all these activities, I think the government has decided to hold the proceedings in-camera. I think that is also good for national security," he said.

Last week, Pakistan said it had filed formal charges against nine suspects, including Kasab, in connection with the terror attack on Mumbai. Two of the suspects have been identified but are still at large. Pakistan also acknowledged that part of the conspiracy behind the attacks was hatched on its soil.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
Source: PTI© Copyright 2022 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.