Pak prosecutors withdraw plea seeking Kasab''s fugitive status

M ZulqernainLahore, Feb 24 (PTI) Pakistani prosecutors todaywithdrew a petition they had filed in the Lahore High Court todeclare Ajmal Kasab and Fahim Ansari as "proclaimed offenders"or fugitives in connection with the 2008 Mumbai terror attackscase.

Prosecutors representing the Federal InvestigationAgency withdrew the review petition on the orders of a HighCourt bench comprising Justices Sheikh Rauf and Ijazul Hasan.

The bench observed that Kasab had been given the deathsentence in India for his role in the attacks and questionedhow he could be brought to Pakistan for trial.

The FIA''s petition, filed last year, has held up thetrial of seven Pakistani suspects charged with involvement inthe Mumbai attacks by an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi.

The FIA had wanted the trial of Kasab and Ansari to beseparated from that of the seven suspects, includingLashker-e-Taiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.

After the anti-terrorism court rejected the FIA�srequest to declare Kasab and Ansari as proclaimed offenders,the agency had approached the Lahore High Court.

The anti-terrorism court has said it could not proceedwith the trial of the seven suspects till the High Court gaveits verdict on the FIA''s petition.

During today''s proceedings in the High Court, theFIA''s lawyer again argued that the case of Kasab and Ansarishould be separated from that of the other seven accused.

The prosecution informed the High Court that theanti-terrorism court had already issued arrest warrants forKasab and Ansari and thus they should be declared proclaimedoffenders.

The High Court bench observed that if theanti-terrorism court had issued arrest warrants for the duo,it would be better if the prosecution pleaded its case there.

It then directed the FIA to withdraw its petition andtake its matter to the anti-terrorism court.

A member of the FIA''s team of prosecutors, who did notwant to be named, told PTI that the matter would be taken upwith the anti-terrorism court.

The next hearing in the trial of the seven accused isscheduled for February 26.

Pakistani national Kasab was sentenced to death by acourt in Mumbai his role in the attacks on India�s financialhub that killed 166 people in November 2008.

Ansari, an Indian national, was acquitted by the samecourt but continues to be in custody in connection with othercases.

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