India allows Pakistani team access to 26/11 witnesses

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

NEW DELHI - India has agreed in principle to allow an investigating team from Pakistan to question Mumbai witnesses of the 2008 terror attack, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Tuesday.

But he added that Islamabad had been asked if Indian investigators could similarly question people accused of conspiring and helping execute the Mumbai carnage that killed 166 people including foreigners.

We have agreed that they should come to India to record the evidence (about the Mumbai attack), Chidambaram told reporters here at his monthly press conference.

But we have also sent them a request asking them if they would agree to a team from India to question the people who are suspects, he said. New Delhi was awaiting a reply.

In principle, we have agreed to allow a Pakistani investigating officer, a magistrate and a doctor to study post-mortem reports (of nine Pakistani terrorists killed in Mumbai), the minister said.

He said that Pakistan had been told that the documentary evidence related to the investigations into the case could be obtained from an Indian court - the Bombay High Court.

The permission to Pakistanis to record evidence comes amid fears that the prime accused in the case, Lashkar-e-Taibas Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, may get relief from court because a judicial commission failed to visit India.

Pakistan has insisted that investigators want to record statements of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate R.V. Sawant Waghule and investigating officer Ramesh Mahale.

The two officials had recorded the statements of Ajmal Kasab - the lone Pakistani terrorist to be captured. He was one of 10 Pakistanis who sailed into India illegally from Pakistan.

The two officials had questioned doctors who carried out the post-mortem of the nine terrorists and the victims of the carnage.

India wants Pakistan to conclude its trial against Lakhvi and six others charged with involvement in the Mumbai attack.

India has given Pakistan 11 dossiers on its investigation into the Mumbai attack.

But Islamabad says the information is not enough to conclude the trial against the arrested LeT militants who are believed to be behind the mayhem. The attack stalled the peace talks between the two countries.

Filed under: Terrorism

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