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India raps Pakistan court's release of Mumbai attack alleged mastermind on bail

media Attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai on 26 November 26 2008 AFP

A Pakistani court has released the alleged mastermind of the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks on bail, drawing swift condemnation from India. The move is a sign of Pakistani officials' reluctance to take action against the suspected perpetrators, a former Indian spy chief told RFI.

Jail officials in Rawalpindi said that Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group, was released late Thursday night for lack of evidence connecting him to the attacks on popular Mumbai sites such as the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and the city's main train station.

His lawyer Malik Nasir Abbas confirmed Lakhvi’s release to Reuters news agency on Friday.

"I don't know where he will go now," Abbas said.

A failure to produce enough evidence to convict Lakhvi underscores the Pakistani authority’s reluctance to prosecute him, Vikram Sood, the former head of India’s foreign intelligence agency, the RAW, told RFI.

“The possibility of having your own man prosecuted and punished doesn’t arise,” Sood said. “They won’t let it happen because then they would become directly involved in the attack.”

Pakistan's intelligence services have been accused of involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

Lakhvi is among seven people implicated in the attacks, which left 166 people dead and further strained peace efforts between the two countries.

He was granted bail in December but after sharp comments from India he was kept in custody under public order legislation.

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On Thursday the Lahore High Court ordered for his conditional released with a two million (15,000 euros) rupee bond.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh condemned Lakhvi's release saying "This is a serious setback, it's deeply disappointing," according to Indian media reports.

Lakhvi was arrested in 2009 in Pakistan after being named a major suspect in the three-day shooting rampage around Mumbai landmarks.

“The manner in which this trial has been conducted for five years just shows that, whatever the authorities in Pakistan may say, they are never going to cooperate with us on it,” Sood said. “And for India this is the litmus test about Pakistan’s intentions of normalising relations.”

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