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ATC approves bail of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in Mumbai attacks case

Updated December 18, 2014
Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. - DawnNews screengrab
Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. - DawnNews screengrab

ISLAMABAD: Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, one of the main accused in the Mumbai attacks case, was granted bail on Thursday by an anti-terrrorism court.

The Federal Investigation Agency's prosecutor disagreed with the bail plea. However, Advocate Rizwan Abbasi, the lawyer representing Lakhvi, stood before the court as the bail was approved.

The court has directed Lakhvi to pay surety bonds worth Rs500,000 before he can be released on bail.

Lakhvi is among the seven persons charged with planning and helping carry out the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The six other men facing trial in Adiala Jail for their alleged involvement in Mumbai attacks are Hammad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Younas Anjum, Jamil Ahmed, Mazhar Iqbal and Abdul Majid.

At the time of the attacks, Lakhvi was believed to be the operational head of the banned Laskhar-i-Taiba (LeT) that has been accused by India of carrying out the attacks in India's financial capital.

Lakhvi along with Zarar Shah was allegedly the key planner of the attack that killed 166 people.

The acceptance of his bail plea came as Pakistan is mourning the deaths of school children and other victims of Tuesday's Taliban massacre and New Delhi has made a visible effort to show solidarity with Islamabad.

The proceedings of the case began in 2009 at the ATC in Rawalpindi and the case was transferred to the ATC in Islamabad the next year.

In April this year however, proceedings came to a virtual standstill as special judge of the ATC expressed his inability to conduct the trial of the seven suspects due to security reasons. This came following a terrorist attack on the district courts in Islamabad in the month of March.

Outrage in India after ATC grants bail

According to a report by The Times of India, India reacted very strongly on the bail granted to the LeT commander.

In a statement, the Indian Home Ministry said, "It's very unfortunate, especially as it comes just after the Peshawar massacre. Pakistan must appeal in the next court. Pakistan needs to show more seriousness in taking 26/11 case trial to its logical conclusion."

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said the decision to grant bail to Lakhvi was “a reassurance to terrorists who perpetuate heinous crimes”.

“We cannot accept that LeT's chief operations commander, Lakhvi, one of the key conspirators of the Mumbai terror attacks... a person designated as international terrorist by UN security council, is released on bail," Akbaruddin said.

“We call upon Pakistan to immediately take steps to reverse this decision," he told journalists in Delhi.