Today's Paper

26/11 trial ends, verdict on May 3

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam  

Rahi Gaikwad

It had 191 hearings since April 15 last year

Mumbai: Marking the end of the year-long 26/11 trial, the special sessions court here on Wednesday announced May 3, 2010, as “the day of judgment.” Judge M.L. Tahaliyani gave the date after the lawyer for the third and last accused, Sabahuddin Ahmed, concluded his final arguments.

On May 3, the court will give its verdict on the various charges against Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, and co-accused Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin. The recording of the judgment will be done in April.

“May 3 ko faisla hoga aapka [Verdict will be pronounced on you on May 3],” Mr. Tahaliyani informed Kasab, who appeared unmoved by the announcement. He did not interact with his lawyer K.P. Pawar on Wednesday and has not done so in a long time.

Speaking to The Hindu over phone, Mr. Pawar said, “I have tried to put my case successfully. I have submitted my arguments in writing. So, there is no fear of leaving anything out. My work was to show the improbability of evidence, which I have done. I am satisfied with my arguments on all accounts. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on my expectations at this point.”

A total of 86 charges have been framed. The three accused face charges of waging war, criminal conspiracy and those under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, among others.

The trial, which began on April 15 last year, had 191 hearings during which 653 witnesses were examined by the prosecution. The final arguments began on March 9 and lasted through the month with the prosecution laying out its case over a span of 11 days.

Sabahuddin's lawyer Ejaz Naqvi said his client was “innocent” and should be given the benefit of the doubt. He said the prosecution had not brought anything on record to prove that Nuruddin Mehboob Shaikh, the only eyewitness against his client, had ever gone to Kathmandu, in Nepal. He termed the witness “bogus.”

He blamed the prosecution for remaining silent on the role of American terror operative David Coleman Headley. “The prosecution spoke about the historic depositions by the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigations], but there is nothing on what the FBI has investigated about Headley.”

The court said that since Headley was in FBI custody, he was not its lookout. “At present we can't discuss these things. The Home Ministry is doing what it wants to do,” Mr. Tahaliyani said.

As for the map, which Sabahuddin allegedly passed on to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Mr. Naqvi said Kasab and his partner Abu Ismail's movements in the city did not conform to the directions of the handmade sketch. Referring to Kasab's confession where he named Sabahuddin, Mr. Naqvi said since all the trainees were assigned different aliases, Sabahuddin could be anybody, other than his client.