26/11 Pak panel warned against visiting terror attack sites

Members of the 26/11 judicial commission from Pakistan have been warned against visiting any of the sites of the attack that took place in November 2008 and advised not to venture out alone,sources in the Mumbai Police said on Thursday as the eight-member panel arrived in the city.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published:March 16, 2012 3:56 am

Members of the 26/11 judicial commission from Pakistan have been warned against visiting any of the sites of the attack that took place in November 2008 and advised not to venture out alone,sources in the Mumbai Police said on Thursday as the eight-member panel arrived in the city.

Officials reiterated that the commission would not be allowed to cross-examine witnesses during the court proceedings due to begin at the Esplanade Court from Friday.

The judicial commission landed in the city from New Delhi on Thursday afternoon,and was taken from the domestic airport in Santacruz to Hotel Marine Plaza on Marine Drive under heavy police escort. The prosecutors and defence advocates from Pakistan were accompanied by officials from the Pakistan High Commission and Ministry of Home Affairs from the capital.

“Besides their daily trips from the hotel to the court and back,there are no other engagements chalked out for the judicial commission. They have been warned well in advance not to attempt any visits to the 26/11 attack sites,keeping in mind public sentiment and threat perception. Members of the delegation have also been advised not to venture out alone on individual trips anywhere in the city,” said a Mumbai Police officer.

Sources said the members had received clear instructions from the Pakistan government on limiting their interactions during their visit. “It has now been decided by the Government of India that the Pakistan judicial commission will not be allowed to cross-examine any of the four witnesses summoned,” said the officer.

Sources indicated that the entire process was merely a diplomatic exercise between the two nations. The statements of the witness would have little evidentiary value before a court of law in Pakistan unless cross-examination was allowed,they said. “While the Centre has decided to refuse cross-examination of the witnesses,the big question is what purpose the recording of their statements will have in the trial conducted in Pakistan? Unless witnesses are cross-examined,their statements will have no value as evidence before a court there,” said a source.

The panel will examine Ganesh Niutkar,a doctor from JJ Hospital,Shailesh Mohite,a doctor from Nair Hospital,investigating officer Ramesh Mahale of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch,and additional chief metropolitan magistrate R V Sawant Waghule who recorded Ajmal Kasab’s confession. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate S S Shinde will preside over the proceedings at the Esplanade Court.

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