Voice samples of Lakhvi in the limelight

Published July 18, 2015
After having pursued the matter for four years, the FIA now says the voice samples cannot be used as evidence. —AFP/File
After having pursued the matter for four years, the FIA now says the voice samples cannot be used as evidence. —AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The voice samples of Ziaur Rehman Lakhvi are in the limelight once again since the Ufa meeting but it’s an issue that the FIA has been following for the past few years, even though the Agency now claims that they are irrelevant to the trial.

After having pursued the matter for four years, the FIA now says the voice samples cannot be used as evidence.

“Though it might be helpful in the course of investigation but the audio allegedly recorded by the Indian Intelligence cannot be used as evidence as there is no law under which the authenticity of the voice could be proved”, a senior prosecutor in the Mumbai attacks case told Dawn.

He said that though the existing laws permitted the use of electronic evidence, there is no provision under which an accused can be forced to provide an audio recording of his voice which can then be matched with available samples.

This view was also echoed by prosecutor Mohammad Azhar Chaudhry who in a telephonic interview to some Indian channels after the Ufa meeting categorically stated that “the issue of voice sample is over now.”

Prime minister’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs after the Ufa meeting has reportedly said that Pakistan needs more information and evidence to conclude the (Mumbai) trial.

These statements were made because the Indian side brought up the Lakhvi trial in Ufa, including the issue of matching the voice samples.

However, the FIA was counting on these voice samples a mere four years ago.

In 2011, the Agency went to the IHC to obtain the voice samples of Lakhvi and his co-accused Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hammad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum currently confined in Adiala Jail. The petition is still pending in the IHC.

The IHC division bench on September 12, 2012 dismissed the petition for “non prosecution” — in other words, the FIA was not pursuing this matter.

However, after the dismissal the FIA woke up again and its prosecutor filed a revised petition before the court once again asking the court to order the suspects to provide their voice samples.

According to the petition, the Indian intelligence agencies had claimed that they had intercepted communication of these suspects with the terrorists who attacked Mumbai in 2008 — in the recorded intercepts, the suspects are allegedly instructing the terrorists.

FIA’s petition for obtaining voice samples of the accused of Mumbai attacks said that on the basis of information received through Indian authorities “Ajmal Kasab alias Abu Mujaid along with his other accomplices was allegedly trained and launched by Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Abu Hamza, Kahafa, and other associates of defunct organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for these attacks.”

It said: “According to the reports, the handlers of attackers remained in touch with the terrorists for instructions through Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP) and satellite/mobile phones, which also indicate connectivity with LeT militants including Abu Al-Qama.”

According to the petition, the communication was handed over to the FIA by the Indian intelligence agency in the shape of a compact disc (CD) and the FIA needed the voice sample of the accused persons to verify if the recorded conversations contained the voices of the accused.

The petition said the Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) had first been petitioned for the voice samples of the accused, confined at Adiala Jail, but the court rejected the plea on May 8, 2010.

The petition said that the samples were essential to concluding the investigation of this high-profile case.

However, the second petition in the IHC has also won FIA no success.

FIA special prosecutor Mohammad Azhar Chaudhry told Dawn that “there is no law in Pakistan that allows the prosecution to forcibly obtain the voice sample of an accused. There is no such law in India and the US.”

“We cannot force the accused to give their voice sample.”

He, however, said that he was seeking court directions for obtaining voice samples adding that if the accused would not provide voice sample despite the court orders, the audio available with the prosecution may be used as evidence in the trial of seven suspects.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2015

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