Facing Threat from LeT, Pak Judge Wants to Be Excused of Conducting 26/11 Trial

Giving a jolt to the 26/11 trial of seven suspects arrested by Pakistani police, the judge hearing the case has said that he can no longer continue with the proceedings.

Judge Baqir Ali Rana of the anti-terrorism court, who has been conducting the trial within the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, requested Lahore High Court to be excused from hearing the case, citing “unavoidable reasons”.

In a formal request sent to the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday, Rana said that he could not continue with the proceedings because of “unavoidable reasons”.

According to reports, the request is presently pending with the Chief Justice;s office.

Nevertheless, media reports suggested that Rana went about taking the very step because he felt that he was under pressure from the government and other quarters so far as the trail of the seven suspects, including key Lashker-e-Taiba operatives Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah was concerned.

Besides, he also faced similar pressure from defence counsels of the seven suspects, who are not pleased with the trial being carried out in-camera.

Reports said that the judge felt his position got “vulnerable” owing to conducting trial behind closed doors. Furthermore, he had reportedly received threats from LeT because the suspects were indicted in the absence of their lawyers during a hearing on October 10.

It may be mentioned that the October 10 trial coincided with an a strike by a group of terrorists on the Pakistan Army’s headquarters.

In the trial, Rana reportedly said that since the situation outside the court was uncertain, those who wanted to leave the premises could do so. After the lawyers left the courtroom, the suspects were formally indicted by the court. Their lawyers boycotted the next hearing on October 17 to protest the court’s move.

The trial is being conducted at Adiala Jail due to security concerns and the media has been barred from attending the proceedings.

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