Kasab wants Rane as witness, 26/11 court rejects plea

Seeking to delay the 26/11 trial, Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab on Wednesday sought to call Maharashtra minister Narayan Rane as a defence witness.

Last Updated: Jan 27, 2010, 21:19 PM IST

Mumbai: Seeking to delay the 26/11 trial,
Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab on Wednesday sought to call Maharashtra
minister Narayan Rane as a defence witness but the special
court rejected the plea terming his request as "irrelevant"
and concluded the recording of evidence.

Special court judge M L Tahaliyani adjourned the case
to February 20 for arguments.

Kasab made the request through his lawyer K P Pawar,
who pleaded that Revenue Minister Rane be examined as defence
witness as he had made a public statement that some local
elements had helped the 26/11 terrorists. Soon after the
carnage, Rane said he knew some politicians who had provided
monetary and logistical support to terrorists.

However, when Solapur-based Purushottam Barde filed a
PIL in the Bombay High Court seeking an inquiry into his
statement, Rane, in an affidavit said that he had simply
referred to N N Vohra committee`s report on criminalisation of
politics and not talked about individuals.

Pawar contended that since Kasab was charged with
participating in the conspiracy, Rane`s evidence would throw
light on people involved in planning and executing the

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam opposed Kasab`s
plea saying Rane`s deposition was not relevant to the case.

The judge felt that Rane`s deposition would not help
Kasab in any way and would be a waste of time.
Outside the court, Nikam said Kasab was fond of
enacting drama to delay the trial.

"On Monday, he said he would like to examine Pakistani
officers as defence witnesses but today he refrained from
talking about them and instead insisted on examining Rane.
This is nothing but a new stunt to delay the trial," said

After a series of flip-flops, the 22-year-old lone
surviving Pakistani gunman of the 26/11 outrage, had on
January 25 told the special court that he wanted to be tried
by an international court, a plea which was promptly rejected
by Tahaliyani.

In another development, co-accused Faheem Ansari and
Sabauddin Ahmed told the court that they did not wish to
examine any defence witness.

Sabauddin, who is charged with providing maps of 26/11
targets to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), said he had been falsely
implicated in the case by Mumbai police.

Replying to questions put to him by the judge on
evidence adduced against him, Sabauddin alleged that he was
not produced before a court within 24 hours of his arrest in
this case on December 17, 2008 by the Mumbai police amounting
to violation of his fundamental rights.

The judge advised him to register his grievance before
the magistrate concerned before whom he was produced for
remand or the National Human Rights Commission.

Sabbauddin denied having provided maps of terror
targets to LeT and refuted police allegations that he had gone
to Nepal where co-accused Faheem gave him maps to be passed on
to LeT.

While Kasab is accused of direct involvement in the
killing of 166 people in the brazen attacks, Faheem and
Sabauddin are charged with taking part in the conspiracy by
preparing and forwarding maps of targets to LeT.

The trial which began on May 8, 2009, has reached its
fag end with the court closing evidence today after examining
610 prosecution witnesses against Kasab and the two Indians--
Sabauddin and Faheem.

If convicted, all the three will face punishment
ranging from life sentence to death.