Pak court adjourns 26/11 case for month

ISLAMBAD: A Pakistani court hearing the case against five men allegedly involved in the Mumbai attacks adjourned for more than a month today without reading out the charges, a defence lawyer said.

Pakistan’s prosecution of suspects in the November killings of 166 people in India’s financial capital is considered a test of its commitment to eradicate militancy on its soil, and any delay could test its already tense relations with its giant South Asian rival.

The US is watching closely because it considers stability in Pakistan — and preserving the Muslim nation’s general detente with India - key to the defeat of insurgents in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The delay until August 29 allows some court officials to take vacations, said Shahbaz Rajput, a defence attorney. He said some legal issues also caused the delay, but he could not give details without the court’s permission.

Rajput said the court failed to read the charges against the accused — akin to an indictment —and that he is still waiting for copies of the list of charges and supporting evidence.

“I was supposed to get that today, but the court today heard arguments from both sides whether to hold the trial in private or in an open court,” Rajput said, adding there was no decision on the issue. Media were not allowed into the anti-terrorism court proceedings, which were held in a maximum security prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Pointing to the case against the five men, Pakistan insists it is doing its part to bring the Mumbai attackers to justice. But Pakistan has rejected Indian demands to extradite the suspects.

India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said today that the country was eager for results.

“We expect the perpetrators of the attacks to be brought to justice. We expect this to be done in a transparent manner and as soon as possible,” Prakash said.

One of the five, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, is accused of masterminding the attacks, while the four others acted as facilitators and managed funds and hide-outs used by the attackers, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said.