Prosecution in Mumbai attack case faced embarrassment when a key witness turned hostile and said that Ajmal Kasab, the lone gunman caught alive after the assault and later hanged, was alive.
"Mudassir Lakhvi, the headmaster of a primary school in Faridkot, where Ajmal Kasab studied for three years told the court that he taught Kasab and he is alive," a court official told PTI today.
The hearing of the case was held by the Anti-Terrorism Court Islamabad judge at Adiala Jail Rawalpindi yesterday, the same day when Pakistan assured India of "steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion" of the Mumbai attack trial during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Prime Minister's Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
"The headmaster caused a lot of embarrassment for the prosecution team by claiming that Ajmal Kasab is alive. He was supposed to present the record of the period during which Ajmal Kasab studied in the school and other relevant record but talked otherwise. The prosecution also failed to properly examine him," the official said.
The official said the headmaster belongs to the native town of accused Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and there is a possibility that he testified under his (Lakhvi's) pressure.
In May 2014, the headmaster told the court that Kasab was still alive.
The prosecution moved an application to examine him again on the ground that the witness turned 'hostile'. He was summoned yesterday but he stuck to his last statement.
The headmaster made no reference to Kasab (hanged in India) and did not mention if he (Kasab) was the same person who studied in the school in Faridkot.
The witness earlier had also claimed that Kasab could be produced in court if needed. The next hearing in the case would be held on December 16.
India blames Pakistan-based militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba for orchestrating the attack that killed 166 people.
Initially, Pakistani authorities had denied Indian claims of Kasab being a Pakistani national but had later confirmed that the only surviving attacker belonged to Pakistan.
Kasab was hanged in November 2012 in a Pune jail.
The trial against LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Sadiq, Shahid Jamil, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum has been underway since 2009 for their alleged role in the Mumbai attacks.
Lakhvi secured bail in December 2014 and was subsequently released from the Adiala Jail in April this year after the Lahore High Court set aside the government's order to detain him under a public security act. He is currently out on bail and living at an undisclosed location.