Mumbai: Trial in the July 11, 2006, Mumbai train bombings - perhaps the world`s most heinous attack on an urban transportation system that snuffed out over 200 innocent lives - is slated to restart on May 24 before a special court.
The trial will be presided over by Special Judge YD Shinde of the MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) Special Court.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which probed the entire case, has appointed eminent criminal lawyer Raja Thakre as special public prosecutor.
The trial will re-start nearly four years after the attack that was bigger than 26/11 in terms of human casualties. Initially, 188 people were declared dead, but 20 more succumbed to their injuries later, officials have said.
The blasts were executed with pinpoint precision by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) with the active ground support of activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
There are a total of 13 accused in the case and over 400 witnesses, mostly suburban train commuters who survived the blasts, besides police officials, who will depose during the trial.
In view of security considerations, some of the accused may be presented in the court by video-conferencing, an official said on condition of anonymity.
As per tentative indications, the trial could take around two years to complete. The 7/11 terror attack was not only the worst-ever on any metropolitan city but also most heinous attacks on an urban transportation system anywhere in the world.
The case had started two years ago and one witness had also deposed before the court then. However, some of the accused in the case had challenged the validity of trying them under the stringent provisions of MCOCA.
Accordingly, the Supreme Court stayed the trial on February 29, 2008. Last month - April 25 - the apex court rejected the petition of the accused challenging the validity of MCOCA and lifted the stay.
This has paved the way for re-starting the trial from where it was left hanging, the official said.
On July 11, 2006, in a matter of around 12 minutes, the attackers set off seven bombs in heavily crowded Western Railway suburban trains on the Churchgate-Borivli-Virar sector during the evening peak hours.
The bombs were inconspicuously planted in the gents first class compartments and the victims were mostly office-goers, businessmen, government servants and college students.
"It was a conspiracy to target Mumbai with the aim of gaining international attention and foment communal trouble," the ATS, which carried out investigations into the case, said in its report later.