Pak court 'refuses to declare Kasab proclaimed offender' in Mumbai terror attacks

Rawalpindi, Feb 25(ANI): The Lahore High Court has refused to declare Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, a proclaimed offender under Pakistan's Criminal Procedure Code.

The court was informed that trial court proceedings against seven men arrested in Pakistan for allegedly planning the Mumbai attacks had made no progress for one year because Kasab and Faheem Ansari- accused of conspiracy in the 26/11 case- were not declared proclaimed offenders (PO) in the case.

The court directed the FIA to withdraw its petition, saying that Kasab could not be declared a PO under the Criminal Procedure Code because he had not been absconding wilfully, the Dawn reports.

The LHC made the observation after prosecution lawyers admitted that the Indian authorities refused to give custody of Kasab after his arrest warrants had been issued by the anti-terrorism court, saying that he had been convicted in the Mumbai attacks case.

Talking to media persons, FIA lawyers said they had withdrawn the petition and would approach the trial court for taking appropriate action regarding the status of Kasab and Ansari in the case.

The FIA had stated in the petition that Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror siege, Hammad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Younas Anjum, Jamil Ahmed, Mazhar Iqbal and Abdul Majid could not be tried unless proceedings against Kasab were deferred after declaring him a PO.

On March 27, 2010, the trial court had refused to initiate the process of declaring Kasab and Ansari as POs and separating their case under Section 512 (record of evidence in the absence of the accused) of the CrPC.

Earlier, the LHC had also declared the confessional statement of Kasab recorded in India against the accused arrested in Pakistan as 'irrelevant under the Pakistani laws', whereas the FIA built its case registered in January 2009 on Kasab's confession.

Defence counsel Khawaja Sultan Ahmed told the media that the prosecution could not proceed against the accused because they had still to complete their investigations about Kasab's legal status.

When asked why a bail application was not moved in the absence of any progress in the trial, the defence counsel said he wanted to provide the investigators and prosecution enough time to prove the case against the seven accused. (ANI)

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