RAWALPINDI, Nov 25: Seven men accused of being involved in the Mumbai terrorist attack pleaded not guilty on Wednesday when the trial court formally indicted them for planning and helping the execution of the bloodbath on Nov 26 last year.
Anti-terrorism court judge Malik Mohammad Akram Awan charged Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid alias Zarar Shah, Mazhar Iqbal alias Abu Al-Qama, Hammad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum with planning, arranging weapons and providing training to the attackers.
The accused, in the presence of their lawyers, denied the charges and pleaded not guilty. They said they would contest the allegations.
The court adjourned the proceedings till Dec 5 and asked the prosecution to produce their witnesses at the next hearing.
The court decided to take up the case of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving ‘terrorist’ being tried in India, separately under section 540-A of the criminal procedure code after a prosecution lawyer said that Kasab had neither been declared a proclaimed offender nor was the government considering to seek his extradition in the case registered with Federal Investigation Agency.
The court did not accept an application moved by defence counsel objecting to the use of uncertified copies of confessional statement of Kasab to prosecute the accused.
The applicant maintained that the prosecution had no witnesses and documentary evidences, other than the unattested confessional statement of Kasab.
Defence counsel Khawaja Sultan Ahmed told Dawn that they would challenge the indictment based on uncertified copies and separation of Kasab’s trial in the Lahore High Court.
He said that under section 540-A, trial of only those accused could be held who could not appear before the court and were represented by a pleader. But in the case of Ajmal Kasab, the prosecution had not tried to bring the accused to the court, he added.