Bail to Lakhvi a big setback: 26/11 prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam

Mumbai: Public prosecutor in the Mumbai terror attack case Ujjwal Nikam on Thursday termed as "setback" a Pakistan court's order releasing on bail top LeT commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi in the 26/11 case and asked Pakistani authorities to ensure it is cancelled.

 Bail to Lakhvi a big setback: 26/11 prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam

26/11 prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said bail given to Lakhvi was a setback. Reuters

"It is really a big setback as with Lakhvi on bail prosecution witnesses will not like to come forward and give evidence," he said, reacting to a Pakistani Anti-Terrorism Court granting bail to the LeT operations commander.

Lakhvi is among the seven Pakistani nationals accused of planning and abetting the brazen terror attack in Mumbai on 26 November, 2008 that left 166 dead, including foreigners.

"If Pakistan wants to fight terrorism, they should fight terrorism emanating from inside first of all because this problem has been cropping up there for a long time. The Peshawar incident shook the world," he said.

"The Pakistani authorities should move a higher court for cancellation of the bail because Hafiz Saeed (LeT founder) and Lakhvi are the real terrorists (behind the Mumbai attack)," he said.

Nikam, who had gone to Pakistan to monitor the progress of the trial in the 26/11 case, recalled a prosecutor in the case had been shot dead after his visit.

Gunmen riding a motorcycle had shot dead senior prosecutor in the 26/11 and Benazir Bhutto assassination cases, Chaudhry Zulfizar Ali, in the busy commercial area of Karachi Company in Islamadad last year.

"My counterpart in Pakistan who was public prosecutor trying this case was shot dead after our visit to Islamabad. Pakistani authorities should try and get Lakhvi's bail cancelled otherwise the witnesses will not have confidence in their minds," Nikam said.

Rejecting claims by defence lawyers in Pakistan that there was no evidence of Lakhvi's involvement in the 26/11 carnage, Nikam said, "If they don't have evidence, why was he not released earlier? Government of India has provided enough evidence (to Pakistan)."

"There is an overwhelming evidence against Lakhvi. Had there been no evidence, he would have been released earlier. I and senior Indian government officials had visited Islamabad and we pointed out voluminous evidence against Lakhvi," Nikam said.

"In spite of this, Lakhvi had not been charged with criminal conspiracy. Pakistan did not take positive steps against all the offenders for criminal conspiracy... I want to know why ?," he asked.

No special court had been constituted in Pakistan for conducting trial of the 26/11 case, the lawyer said.

"The trial is being conducted in one court where other terror cases are also being heard. Therefore the progress of the Mumbai terror attacks case is slow," he said.

PTI

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Updated Date: Dec 18, 2014 18:42:21 IST