Pakistani judicial panel cross-examines 26/11 witnesses

Mumbai, Sep 24 : An eight-member Pakistani judicial commission started examining Indian witnesses in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks case amid stringent security in a court here Tuesday.

The commission, on its second visit to India, will cross-examine the witnesses to the terror attacks in connection with the ongoing trial of seven suspects in Pakistan for their alleged involvement in the crime.

The proceedings started with Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who conducted the 26/11 trial between 2008-2012 in various courts, introducing the commission members to Additonal Chief Metropolitan Magistrate P.Y. Ladekar.

The Indian witnesses who will be examined over the next couple of days include magistrate R.V. Sawant-Waghule who had recorded the first confession of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole terrorist to be arrested alive from among the 10 who launched the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.

Among the others to be examined are the chief investigating officer in the 26/11 case Ramesh Mahale, and two medicos who conducted the autopsy on the Pakistani terrorists gunned down during the three-day gunfight with security forces Nov 26-28, 2008 at various locations in south Mumbai.

In its previous visit in March 2012, the commission had examined the same witnesses who will be now cross-examined.

Its earlier report to the Pakistani anti-terror court was rejected as the witnesses were not allowed to be cross-examined here.

Later, the matter was sorted out between the two governments with an agreement that the Pakistani panel could cross-examine four Indian witnesses so that the evidence could be used in the trial against Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and others in that country.

The commission includes a new special public prosecutor, two officers from the Pakistani anti-terror court and two defence witnesses.

On the night of Nov 26, 2008, 10 heavily armed terrorists sneaked into south Mumbai by Arabian Sea route and targeted various prominent locations there.

They opened indiscriminate firing at all the public places killing 166 people and injuring hundreds more at various places including Leopold Cafe, Hotel Taj Mahal, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Chabad House, Hotel Trident and Cama Hospital.

While nine terrorists were gunned down in a massive operation mounted by the security agencies, Kasab was nabbed alive.

They nine were identified as: Ismail Khan alias Abu Ismail, Imran Babar alias Abu Aakasha, Nasir alias Abu Umar, Nazir Ahmad alias Abu Umer, Hafiz Arshad alias Abdul Rehman Bada alias Hayaji, Abdul Rehman Chhota alias Saakib, Fahad Ullah, Javed alias Abu Ali, and Shoaib alias Abu Shoheb.

Kasab was tried and sentenced to death by various courts right upto the Supreme Court and hanged in Yerawada Central Jail in November 2012.

--IANS (Posted on 24-09-2013)

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