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Mumbai Police won’t share 26/11 evidence with FBI for now

The court proceedings in the 26/11 terror attack case have concluded last month,but the Mumbai Police are stalling sharing of physical evidence collected from the attack sites with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in spite of repeated requests.

The court proceedings in the 26/11 terror attack case have concluded last month,but the Mumbai Police are stalling sharing of physical evidence collected from the attack sites with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in spite of repeated requests.

Sources in the Mumbai Police Crime Branch said the police had been earlier willing to oblige the FBI once court proceedings against Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab were over,but the deportation of alleged 26/11 handler Syed Zabiuddin Ansari Abu Jundal from Saudi Arabia in June complicated matters.

“Earlier,it had been conveyed to the FBI that the case against Kasab was being heard by the Supreme Court. A sessions judge in Mumbai had said evidence would be shared with FBI only after the SC decides Kasab’s plea challenging his conviction and death sentence,and on the government’s appeals against the acquittals of Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ansari,” said an officer on condition of anonymity.

“While the SC proceedings are over,there is still a great deal of reluctance to share the evidence with the FBI as a supplementary chargesheet will be filed against Jundal in the 26/11 case. The public prosecutor in the case is being consulted on this aspect. Until the case against Jundal is decided,it does not seem possible that any physical evidence relating to the case can be shared. The FBI’s request will be indefinitely stalled,” the officer said.

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Jundal is accused of being one of the LeT handlers of two Pakistani gunmen who stormed the Chabad House during the 26/11 attack. He also allegedly taught the 10 attackers Hindi and saw them off when they set sail for Mumbai’s shores from Pakistan.

While a judicial commission from Pakistan visited the city in March and recorded statements of four prosecution witnesses,the FBI has been waiting for more than three years to gain access to evidence it requires for a comparison with evidence seized in Pakistan. The FBI’s last request was received through its New Delhi liaison office in June.

In January 2011,a Chicago court had sent a Letter Rogatory (LR) to the trial court in Mumbai seeking some of the evidence collected during the probe. In a bid to reply to the LR,the process of identifying samples on the FBI’s list from among roughly 1,800 articles under court custody was initiated. The FBI had asked for over 400 items of evidence in the possession of the court,of which several — such as blood samples,explosives and hand wash done on Kasab for a gunpowder residue test — were found to have been destroyed in accordance with standard procedure.

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A key item sought by FBI are samples of pink foam recovered from some attack sites. US investigators had sought these so they could compare them with similar material found in Pakistan and further nail its links to the attack.

US officials complained that India was “not forthcoming’’ on the request and this was a “significant hurdle’’ in the prosecution case in Pakistan,a US diplomatic cable accessed by a newspaper through WikiLeaks and published last March had revealed.

First published on: 17-09-2012 at 02:27:33 am
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