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Mumbai attack trial concludes, Kasab verdict on May 3

The trial of Ajmal Kasab, accused of slaughtering 166 people, concluded on Wednesday.

Zeenews Bureau

Mumbai: The trial of the lone surviving
Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack
in which 166 people were killed concluded today almost a year
after it commenced in a special court which will pronounce its
verdict on May 3.

In one of the fastest terror trials in history, Special
judge M L Tahaliyani reserved his judgement to May 3 after the
prosecution and defence counsels wrapped up their final
arguments in his court in the high security Arthur Road jail.

"Thereafter, if Kasab is found guilty, then the special judge would decide about the punishment," a beaming Nikam told mediapersons.

Appearing relieved of the major burden of single-handedly conducting the prosecution, Nikam said this is the first time in the world that a trial against a dreaded terrorist has been completed in a record seven months -- he was discounting the court holiday due to parliamentary elections and Maharashtra assembly polls, and other vacations.

"This is despite the fact that Kasab made every possible attempt to scuttle and delay the court proceedings against him," Nikam pointed out.

First, Kasab claimed to be a minor and the prosecution determinedly disproved his claim.

Later, he alleged that he was being poisoned in the jail and even presented some powder before the special judge, but on examination it turned out to be ordinary rice powder, Nikam said.

Nikam also referred to Kasab`s other delaying tactics like confessing, and retracting his confessions several times, feigning illnesses and other things.

"It proved that he was an actor par excellence and was following the Al Qaeda manual to delay and disrupt the proceedings against him," Nikam declared.

However, Nikam expressed happiness that it`s "all over now" and the day of judgment has been finally fixed.

Significantly, agents of US investigative agency FBI
also deposed in the trial that began on May 8, 2009. The trial
itself saw several dramatic twists and turns in which 22-year-
old Kasab initially pleaded not guilty and then made a
confession about his involvement only to retract to say he has
been framed by police.

Kasab faces death penalty if convicted on scores of
charges including waging war against India and murder during
the 60-hour reign of terror which targeted luxury hotels--the
Taj and the Oberoi; a tourist restaurant--Leopold Cafe; the
city`s main railway station--CST terminal and a Jewish
centre--Nariman House.

Two Indians- Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed--also
faced the trial after they were charged with taking part in
the conspiracy by drawing maps of targets and sending them to
Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

The prosecution examined as many as 653 witnesses
including seveeral eye-witnesses to prove their case that LeT
carried out the dastardly attacks by sending 10 `jehadi`
terrorists from Karachi.

Nikam highlighted how the carnage
that began on the night of November 26, 2008 was a case of
state-sponsored terrorism in which Pakistan was involved.

"While opening my argument, I had said it was a classic
case of state-sponsored terrorism in which the apparatus of
the Pakistani army was involved, a fact that was established
when David Headley admitted it before a Chicago court days
later," Nikam said.

He said the prosecution had presented "concrete and
cogent evidence" to the court in order to establish the charge
against the accused.

He said that even LeT operative David Headley, currently in a US jail, had named the involvement of some high-ranking Pakistanis in the attack.

"With all this, we were able to conclude that it was a state-sponsored act of terrorism," Nikam urged.

"FBI agents and experts came and deposed before the
court on the basis of which we were able to prove that the
terrorists had come from Karachi. The terrorists tried to
destroy the GPS data which we retrieved with FBI help,".

If the accused are pronounced guilty on May 3, the court
would on that day call upon the prosecution and defence
lawyers to put forth their arguments on quantum of sentence.

"I am happy that trial has come to an end. We have
highlighted all aspects of conspiracy. This is the first
terror trial case in India which has been completed in
shortest possible time," Nikam said.

The court-appointed lawyer representing Kasab, K.P. Pawar told media persons that he attempted to rip apart the prosecution`s "false and fabricated claims" against the prime accused.

"I attempted to argue on the probability and improbability of the happenings, whether Kasab was present at the time of the incidents mentioned by the prosecution and other aspects," Pawar said.

He said that he questioned the genuineness of many of the evidences, including photographs and close circuit television camera footage presented before the special court.

"I hope that all this would be taken into account by the special court before pronouncing the final verdict against the accused," Pawar said.

-Agencies’ inputs

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