Rawalpindi, Feb. 10 (ANI): A Pakistan team's visit to India to record statements of four Indian witnesses to the 2008 Mumbai attacks has been delayed due to legal complications.
The team was scheduled to visit India during the second half of the current month, after the defence counsel sought written assurances for cross-examination of the witnesses, reports The Dawn.
On Feb 2, the FIA had filed an application in the Anti-Terrorism Court, seeking permission to join the proceedings of the commission constituted by the Mumbai High Court under Indian judge Amer Ahmed Khan to record statements of the witnesses against seven Pakistani suspects.
The Indian authorities had asked Pakistan to send a panel of lawyers in February for recording the statements of R.V. Sawant Waghule, who had recorded the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab; Ramesh Mahale, chief investigation officer of the case; and doctors Ganesh Dhunraj and Chintaman Mohite, who had conducted post-mortem of the terrorists killed during the attacks.
However, defence counsel for the alleged mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Khawaja Harris, informed the ATC that the Indian government's letter about recording the statements "lacked clarity". It did not mention whether the witnesses would be cross-examined or not, he pointed out.
He said the proceedings of last year's Mumbai commission had been declared illegal by the ATC because the defence team had not been allowed to cross-examine the witnesses.
Earlier in March 2012, another Pakistani panel - including special prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali and counsel for the suspects - had recorded statements of the witnesses but had not cross-examined them.
According to the prosecution agency FIA, the suspects - Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hammad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum - could not be convicted unless the witnesses were cross-examined.
Chaudhry Zulfiqar said the Indian government had agreed in principle to allow the cross-examination but the defence counsel wanted the assurance in writing. (ANI)