Pakistani court orders release of Mumbai terror attacks suspect

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A Pakistani court has ordered the release of the main suspect in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks by cancelling a government order under which he had been detained for the past three months.

But Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi is unlikely to be freed quickly because he still faces charges in a separate kidnapping case, prosecutor Jahangir Jadoon said.

Islamabad High Court “cancelled the detention order for Lakhvi after concluding that no solid evidence was available to keep him in jail”, he said.

Defence lawyer Rizwan Abbasi said his client had been implicated in the kidnapping case in December to block his release. Another court has already granted Lakhvi bail in that case, and the government has no authority to keep him in jail, the lawyer said.

“The government may show rigidity and it may use delaying tactics in releasing Lakhvi to appease India,” Mr Abbasi said. Lakhvi is one of seven suspects being tried by Pakistan in connection with the attacks, which killed 166 people.

India has repeatedly urged Pakistan to actively pursue the case against Lakhvi, who was accused of planning the attack, and other suspects. India’s Ministry of External Affairs summoned the Pakistani high commissioner in New Delhi yesterday and conveyed India’s disappointment at the court’s ruling.

India’s junior home minister, Kiren Rijiju, said Islamabad had not produced conclusive testimony against Lakhvi despite possessing sufficient evidence.

Mr Abbasi said his client has been in government custody since 2009. Lakhvi has remained in custody under a special detention order even though a court granted him bail in December in the Mumbai case.