ISLAMABAD: The detention orders of the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, were declared void by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday.
IHC’s Justice Noorul Haq accepted Lahvi’s appeal filed against his third time detention orders and ordered the immediate release of the alleged Mumbai attack mastermind.
The IHC had earlier reserved its decision over the application.
Lakhvi is accused of being the mastermind of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people. The Pakistani government took Lakhvi and other suspects into custody in February 2009 for ‘facilitating’ the attacks.
The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had also registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Lakhvi and six other alleged abettors in 2009.
In August 2009, Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali was appointed special prosecutor in the case. Later, Advocate Mohammad Azhar Chaudhry was also appointed senior prosecutor.
After the murder of Chaudhry Zulfiqar on May 3, 2013, the FIA handed over the job to Abuzar Hasnain Pirzada.
India and some other countries took strong exception to the granting of bail to Lakhvi, only a couple of days after the December 16 terrorist attacks on Army Public School, Peshawar.
This had forced the government to detain Lakhvi under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO). The IHC on December 29 suspended the detention order, but the Supreme Court on January 7 restored Lakhvi’s detention and asked the IHC to decide the matter after hearing the federal government.
The prosecution in the Mumbai attacks case has also filed a petition seeking the cancellation of Lakhvi’s bail which is still pending in the IHC.
In the petition, the FIA’s special prosecutor claimed that, “The fact remained that being the prosecution in such cases has been the most difficult job in our country for the last many years.” The petition further states, “Even in this case, the prosecutors have been receiving threats on their cellphones during the proceedings which were duly conveyed to the concerned authorities. The witnesses are also not protected and were reluctant to depose against the accused persons in the given situation.”
The government, in the meantime, registered another FIR against Lakhvi on December 29 in a six-year-old case of the kidnapping of an Afghan national.
Lakhvi through his lawyer had filed petitions for his acquittal in the kidnapping case and for setting aside his detention order.