Mumbai attack trial concludes, Kasab verdict on May 3
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Last Updated: Thursday, April 01, 2010, 08:57
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

First Published: Thursday, April 01, 2010, 08:57

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