A Pakistani court hearing the case against five men allegedly involved in the Mumbai attacks adjourned for more than a month on Saturday without reading out the charges, a defense 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 U.S. 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 neighboring Afghanistan.
The delay until Aug. 29 allows some court officials to take
vacations, said Shahbaz Rajput, a defense 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 issuing 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
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
Saturday 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.
He has stressed the case could expand and that Pakistan is
seeking other potential suspects.
Indian security forces killed nine of the Mumbai attackers. The
only suspect caught alive, Ajmal Kasab, a 21-year-old Pakistani,
confessed in an Indian court Monday to taking part.
He linked the attacks to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a banned militant
outfit formed in the 1980s - with the alleged blessing of
Pakistan's intelligence services - to sow trouble in the disputed
Indian prosecutors have argued that Kasab's statement was
incomplete and accused him of seeking to avoid the death penalty.
In response, Kasab said he was willing to be hanged for his
actions. The judge in the Indian case has decided to accept Kasab's
confession as evidence, but said the trial will proceed because
Kasab did not address all the charges against him.
The Taliban and other militant groups in Pakistan have carried
out numerous attacks in its northwest region bordering Afghanistan,
forcing the army to carry out operations against them.
Two such attacks Saturday wounded 12 policemen and nine
civilians, police said.
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a police patrol
in the town of Lakki Marwat, wounding five police and eight
civilians, said police official Usman Khan. A roadside bomb
exploded in nearby Kohat district as a police team tried to defuse
it, said police official Habib Khan, adding that the blast wounded
seven officials and a bystander.
The military said Saturday it had killed 14 more suspected
Taliban fighters in the Swat Valley and surrounding districts in
one of its operations.
Nearby in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region, a
bullet-riddled body of a man accused by Taliban fighters of acting
as a U.S. spy was discovered on a main road, police official Adil
A note attached to the corpse said: "This is the fate everybody
will meet for spying for America."
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