RAWALPINDI, July 14: An anti-terrorism court here on Saturday dismissed the bail plea of an alleged financier of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The post-arrest bail application of Jamil Ahmed was moved by his counsel Ilyas Siddiqui before the ATC judge Chaudhry Habibur Rehman. After hearing the prosecution and the defence counsel, the judge observed that Ahmed was not entitled to bail.
Advocate Siddiqui told the court that the prosecution had no evidence against his client but even then he had been detained for over three years.
He said after an amendment to section 497 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the accused was entitled to bail because the trial had not been completed within the stipulated time.
Senior public prosecutor of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) opposed the bail plea and maintained that Ahmed was one of the financiers of the Mumbai attacks in which 166 persons from different countries were killed.
He said the accused was booked under sections 7 and 21-I (regarding murder and abetment) of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and there was no amendment made to the act, adding CrPC was different from the ATA. The prosecutor said Ahmed had allegedly purchased from Saudia Arabia a satellite phone along with a Thuraya SIM registered in his name which was recovered from the Taj Mahal Hotel, the place of the attacks in Mumbai.
The accused also transferred Rs2.1 million from Saudia Arabia to the Allied Bank Drigh Road Karachi branch in the name of Shahid Jamil Riaz, another accused in the case, to finance the terrorist attacks 13 days prior to the incident, he added.
Meanwhile, the same court reserved its judgment on an application filed by the counsel for the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks for July 17. The defence counsel raised a number of objections on the Mumbai commission’s report submitted to the ATC by FIA and requested the court not to make the report as part of its documents.
The 800-page report regarding the proceedings of the Mumbai commission headed by S.S. Shinde, the chief metropolitan magistrate of Mumbai, was submitted by FIA senior public prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali in April this year. It included the statements of Indian prosecution witnesses, including woman magistrate R.V. Sawant Waghule, who had recorded the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab, Ramesh Mahale, the chief investigating officer of the case, as well as Ganesh Dhunraj and Chintaman Mohite, the two doctors who had carried out postmortem on the bodies of the terrorists killed during the attacks. Khawaja Mohammad Harris, the counsel for Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, in the application filed with the ATC pointed out that the Pakistani panel joined the proceedings of the Mumbai commission under sub-section 3 of section 503 of the CrPC, adding the defence lawyers as well as the prosecution could cross examine the Indian witnesses.
The application, however, said the defence lawyer could not cross-examine the Indian witnesses because the Indian prosecutor Ujual Nikam had produced a letter of November 5, 2010, to the commission according to which both Indian and Pakistani governments had agreed to exempting the Indian witnesses of Mumbai attacks case from cross- examination.
Riaz Akram Cheema, another defence counsel, told the ATC judge that the Mumbai commission had proved to be a useless exercise because of the non-professionalism of the FIA prosecutors.
He said the Pakistani prosecutors had concealed the understanding of both the governments on recording of testimony of the Indian witnesses from the court as well as from the defence counsel.
If the defence counsel would not be allowed to cross examine the witnesses, then it is impossible for the counsel to find out the truth, he added.
According to him, exempting the witnesses from cross-examining was against sections 503, 507 of CrPC and section 287/2 of the Indian CrPC that made the cross-examination of the witnesses mandatory in the trials and inquiries.