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26/11: India seeks NIA team to visit Pakistan to examine evidence

Dailybhaskar.com   |  Oct 03, 2012, 20:29PM IST
New Delhi: After Pakistan sent a judicial team to India to examine evidence in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks trial, India also wants to send a team of National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials to Islamabad to examine material evidence collected by their Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
 
New Delhi has written to Islamabad, making a formal request to this effect. If Pakistan agrees, the NIA team will visit Islamabad even before Pakistani judicial commission comes to Mumbai again for cross-examining the four witnesses of the 26/11 case.
 
Besides examining material evidence, including items seized from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) training camps where 10 Mumbai attackers had got training, the NIA team would also try to have a look at the Pakistani ship, Al-Hussaini, which was used by the terrorists.
 
The possibility of seeking access to the five prosecution witnesses who testified before a Pakistani anti-terrorism court about the training of the terrorists who carried out the Mumbai attack is also in the mind of investigators.
 
India also wants to interrogate LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six others, who are the prime accused of the deadly attacks. The case is being heard by a special court in Rawalpindi's high-security Adila jail.
 
The matter was first discussed between Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik when they met on sidelines of a SAARC conference in Maldives last week.
 
The letter rogatory (a legal request through Indian court seeking help of Pakistan in Mumbai terror attack case probe) has been pending for long as Islamabad initially resisted the move to allow foreign investigators to conduct probe on its soil. The matter now appears to have moved a bit forward after both the countries agreed to enhance cooperation between the NIA and FIA on issues of mutual concern, including 2611 investigation, during the home secretary-level talks in May.
 
Meanwhile, Pakistan pitched for sending its judicial commission to Mumbai for second time to cross-examine four witnesses.
 
Malik put forward the Islamabad's request to Shinde while referring to Pakistan's trial court order that rejected the findings of the Judicial Commission which visited Mumbai in March. The Court had in July said that the report of the panel had no "evidential value" as it was not allowed to cross-examine the four witnesses and asked the Panel to visit India again for the job.
 
The four witnesses who are supposed to be quizzed by the panel include the magistrate, who recorded the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab, the investigating officer of the 26/11 case and two doctors who conducted the post-mortem of the nine slain terrorists.
 
The home ministry reportedly said that though India would allow Pakistani judicial commission to visit Mumbai, there was some resistance among a section of officials here over the move as they believed that there was no guarantee that Islamabad would not put forth another condition or demand for speeding up the 2611 trial there in future.
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