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Islamabad may seek custody of surviving Mumbai attacker

Video by Nicolas GERMAIN

Latest update : 2009-02-14

After acknowledging that the November attacks on a Mumbai hotel originated with planners in Pakistan, the Pakistani government may ask India for custody of the sole surviving gunman.

REUTERS - Pakistan may ask India for custody of the only gunman to survive the Mumbai attacks to strengthen its prosecution of those behind the assault, Pakistan's top interior ministry official said on Saturday.

Islamabad acknowledged for the first time this week that the November attack in the Indian financial capital was launched from and partly planned in Pakistan.

Pakistani investigators lodged a police complaint against eight suspects, including Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani militant caught alive by Indian forces during the attack that killed at least 179 people between Nov. 26 and 28.

Nine gunmen were killed in the assault.

"If investigators recommend it and the court asked for him, then definitely we will do that," Rehman Malik, adviser to the prime minister on the interior, told reporters when asked if Pakistan would seek custody of Kasab.

"It's premature but when the name of a person appears in a (police complaint), he is needed in the case ... We will do it when our investigators think he is needed here."

Pakistan says six of the eight suspects, including one ringleader, are in custody and two are at large.

Malik urged Indian authorities to speed up their investigation and answer 30 questions sent to India by Pakistani investigators to help Pakistan's prosecution case.

India welcomed the acknowledgement that the attacks were partly planned on Pakistani soil as a sign of a possible thaw in ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours, who have fought three wars since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

A lawyer for the suspects said he might file a high court petition against the Pakistani government for failing to produce the suspects before the court.

"Under the law these people should have been produced before the court for a remand within 24 hours of the registration of the complaint against them," lawyer Shahbaz Rajpoot told reporters outside an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi. The suspects had been expected to appear in the court.

"I will consult my clients and after their instructions I may file a petition against the government for keeping them in illegal detention," he said.

Date created : 2009-02-14