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Last Updated:  Monday, 7 April, 2003, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Karachi bomb trial hearings end
Blast scene outside US Consulate in June 2002
Police say the van was also used in an effort to kill President Musharraf
The prosecution has demanded the death penalty for five men accused of a car-bomb attack on the US consulate in the Pakistani city of Karachi last June which killed 12 people.

The call came on the final day of hearings on Monday at a special anti-terrorism court. Judge Aale Maqbool Rizvi is due to deliver his verdict on 14 April.

The defence argued that the men should all be acquitted for lack of evidence.

The accused, all alleged members of a radical offshoot of the Harakat ul-Mujahideen militant group, protest their innocence.

"The prosecution has proved its case and the accused people are liable for the maximum conviction, which is the death penalty," public prosecutor Habib Ahmed told reporters outside the city's central prison, where the trial was held.

During their trial, which began in full in November, the five pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder, terrorism and use of explosives.

On 14 June 2002, a bomb in a Suzuki pick-up exploded outside the consulate, killing the driver and 11 Pakistanis as well as injuring at least 20 and demolishing a wall.

'Wrong vehicle'

Harakat ul-Mujahideen is on a US list of terrorist organisations and reportedly has links to Muslim separatists in Indian-administered Kashmir.

KARACHI ATTACKS
Guard outside UK Consulate in Karachi
8 May 2002: Bomb kills 11 French naval engineers and two Pakistanis
14 June 2002: US Consulate bomb kills 12
25 September: Seven people shot dead in attack on a Christian charity, the Institute for Peace and Justice
5 December 2002: Three Pakistanis killed in attack on Macedonian Consulate
28 February 2003: Two policemen killed in gun attack on US Consulate
Police say the five defendants - Mohammed Haneef, Mohammed Imran, Mohammed Ahsraf, Sharib Arsalan and Hafiz Zubair - are all members of al-Alaami, an offshoot of the organisation.

Defence lawyer Abdul Waheed Katpar said no case against his clients had been proven and the five say confessions were extracted from them under duress.

"The prosecution has wrongly implicated them in the case," Mr Katpar told reporters.

Prosecution witnesses said in March that they had spotted two of the defendants, Mr Arsalan and Mr Zubair, alighting from the pick-up and embracing just moments before the vehicle exploded.

However, Mr Katpar dismisses their account.

"I argued in the court that the blast took place in an another make of Suzuki van, and not in the pick-up van on which the prosecution developed its whole case," he told AFP news agency.

The body of the Suzuki's driver has never been identified.

If the five are convicted and sentenced to death, they could lodge an appeal with the high court and, ultimately, the Supreme Court.

'Attack on president'

Two of the accused, Mr Imran and Mr Haneef, are suspected of plotting to kill President Pervez Musharraf on a visit to Karachi on 26 April 2002.

Police say they had tried to set off a bomb in a Suzuki pick-up but the detonator switch failed to work and they removed the vehicle from the scene.

The same pick-up was then used in the consulate attack, police say.


SEE ALSO:
Karachi blast suspects charged
08 Nov 02  |  South Asia
Pakistani militants' new targets
29 Jun 02  |  South Asia
Karachi: Volatile metropolis
12 Sep 02  |  South Asia
Karachi bomb suspects indicted
01 Apr 03  |  South Asia
US consulate in Karachi attacked
28 Feb 03  |  South Asia


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