Pakistani court postpones Mumbai attack trial

AP News
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Posted: Dec 05, 2009 8:11 AM

The trial of seven Pakistani men accused of involvement in last year's Mumbai terrorist attacks was postponed by a week Saturday after the defense failed to appear in court as part of a daylong lawyers' strike, an attorney said.

The defense lawyers stayed away as part of a work stoppage to show sympathy with victims a deadly mosque bombing the day before outside Pakistan's capital.

The defendants have been charged with planning and helping carry out the three-day rampage in the Indian financial center that killed 166 people in November 2008. It was Pakistan's first indictment in the case, which is being monitored by India and the United States to see if Islamabad makes good on promises to bring those responsible to justice.

Two of the defendants, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, have been publicly accused by India of masterminding the attacks.

Defense lawyer Shahbaz Rajput said the anti-terrorism court adjourned until Dec. 12, when the prosecution will begin presenting evidence. The trial has faced many delays as the attack has stoked tensions between rival nuclear-armed nations Pakistan and India.

Saturday's delay came after lawyers nationwide announced a one-day strike in sympathy for the victims of Friday's grenade and suicide attack that targeted Pakistani military officers and their families praying at a mosque close to army headquarters. The attack, which has reportedly been claimed by left 37 people dead, including several senior officers.

The commander of the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series of strikes as militants fight back against army offensives in the northwestern tribal regions near the Afghan border.

Another explosion ripped through a store in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Saturday, killing three people, but that blast was eventually determined to be accidental.

With tensions high because of the violence, officials initially said Saturday's blast was a car bomb but investigators said they found no trace of explosives at the scene. Police Chief Liaquat Ali Khan said it was an accidental explosion that went off in a shop with paint stored inside. The exact cause was unclear.

Peshawar has become a frequent target for anti-government, Islamist militants.

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Associated Press writer Inamur Rehman in Peshawar contributed to this report.