A Pakistani anti-terror court conducting the trial of Lashkar-e-Tayiba's Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six others accused of involvement in the Mumbai attacks on Saturday dismissed the prosecution's application for naming Ajmal Kasab and Fahim Ansari as 'proclaimed offenders' or fugitives.
Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan of the Rawalpindi-based court, who is conducting the trial within the Adiala Jail for security reasons, rejected the application a week after hearing arguments by the prosecution and defence lawyers on it.
'The prosecution's application for declaring Kasab and Fahim Ansari as proclaimed offenders was dismissed by the judge, during today's proceedings,' Shahbaz Rajput, one of the defence lawyers, told PTI.
Kasab, a Pakistani, was captured alive during the Mumbai attacks while nine other terrorists were gunned down.
Ansari is another accused arrested in India for the attacks. Sources said Awan dismissed the prosecution's application under Section 512 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which relates to recording of evidence in the absence of an accused.
This section states that a court can record the deposition of prosecution witnesses even in the absence of an accused. Such evidence can be used as and when the accused is finally produced in the trial court. Further details of the court's order were not immediately available.
However, Lakhvi's lawyer Khwaja Sultan said the prosecution's application was a 'delaying tactic' as authorities had no evidence against the accused.
"They only have the statement of Kasab. Take that away and there is no case," he told PTI.
At the last hearing on March 20, the defence lawyers had demanded that Kasab should be brought from India to Pakistan to face trial with the other suspects.
They also argued that Kasab was not a fugitive as he was not 'wilfully' avoiding the Pakistani court. The prosecution's application to declare Kasab and Ansari as fugitives became necessary after the Lahore High Court recently ruled that Kasab's trial could not be separated from that of the seven accused in Pakistan.
The High Court gave its ruling in response to a petition filed by Lakhvi. Apart from Lakhvi, the accused in the case in Pakistan are Zarar Shah, Abu al-Qama, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum. PTI