26/11 Mumbai attacks: Islamabad HC allows for inspection of boat used by terrorists to reach coast

A top Pakistani court has allowed the examination of a boat used by the 10 LeT terrorists to reach India for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack, overturning an anti-terrorism court verdict which it termed as “flawed”. “The Islamabad High Court has set aside the verdict of trial court (Anti-Terrorism Court) in Mumbai case for not allowing sending of a commission to Karachi for inspection of Al-Fauz boat used by Mumbai attack terrorists,” Chaudhry Azhar, prosecution chief in the Mumbai attack case, said.

He said the High Court termed the trial court decision “flawed and not in accordance with law” and allowed examination of the boat in the port city of Karachi. The prosecution in May had challenged the trial court’s decision to reject its plea to form a commission to examine the boat ‘Al-Fauz’ used by Mumbai attack terrorists so that the vessel could be made “case property”. Al-Fauz is in the custody of Pakistani authorities in Karachi, from where the 10 militants, armed with AK-47 assault rifles and hand grenades, had left for India to carry out the Mumbai attack that claimed 166 lives.

The High Court, however, has not specified in its order whether it is necessary to form a commission comprising prosecution and defence lawyers for the inspection of the boat. “The trial court is likely to send court officials for the inspection of Al-Fauz since it has received no direction of forming a commission for the purpose,” another court official said. “The trial court will nominate the official(s) for the inspection of the boat in the September 7 hearing,” he said.

The trial court held a hearing in the Mumbai attack case in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi on Wednesday. It was informed that Pakistan had not received a reply from India about sending its 24 witnesses here to record their statements in the case. The court adjourned the proceedings in the case till September 7. The courts are observing an over a month-long summer holidays and only the cases of very important nature will be heard during the vacation period.

According to the Federal Investigation Agency, the attackers used three boats, including Al Fauz, to reach Mumbai from Karachi. It said the security agencies had also traced the shop and its owner from where the culprits bought the engine and the boat while a bank and a money exchange company were also traced which were used for the transaction of money.

The 10 LeT militants had left Karachi on the boat on November 23, 2008. En route to their destination, they hijacked another boat, killing four of its crew. They forced the vessel’s captain to take them close to the Indian shores. The captain was killed when the vessel reached Mumbai’s coast. The Mumbai attack case is facing inordinate delay as no proceedings practically have been held for more than three months. The Mumbai case hearing is scheduled to be held once a week.

Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum are accused of abetment to murder, attempted murder, planning and executing the Mumbai attack. Lakhvi is living at an undisclosed location after he got released from jail on bail a year ago. The other six suspects are in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi. The case has been going on in the country for more than six years.