Dec. 13 attack: investigation trivialised, says defence

NEW DELHI NOV. 13. The defence in the December 13 Parliament attack case today said that the police had trivialised terrorism by their investigation.

Defence counsel, K. G. Kannabiran, told the court that "terrorism is a serious business and must be fought at a serious level." He said the police were guilty of trivialisation: they had framed grave charges, such as waging war against the nation and attempting to assassinate the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, against the four accused but had produced no evidence.

The list of 18 charges against Mohammed Afzal, Shaukat Hussain Guru, Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani and Afsan Guru include acquiring arms and ammunition and conspiring with the Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders, Ghazi Baba and Mohammed Masud Azhar, to wage war against India.

The only evidence, Mr. Kannabiran said, was "three AK-47s, two pistols, knives and some explosives.'' And these were recovered from the dead militants and not from the four on trial.

The prosecution, he told the court, had investigated the December 13 case and "found nothing, but had foisted a case" on the accused.

He said the police appeared to believe that "what is in the chargesheet is evidence and that this proves the case". For the accused to fairly and intelligently defend themselves against the charges levelled against them, he said they had a right to know the basis on which these charges were made.

Mr. Kannabiran questioned the basis of the prosecution's case, which rests on the claim that there was "conspiracy", of which the four accused were a part of, to attack Parliament.

He said that under the law any evidence pertaining to a conspiracy had to be acquired contemporaneously with it. That is, while the conspiracy was in existence, and not after the incident, in this case prior to the attack on Parliament. The prosecution had produced no such evidence. Even the material evidence — for example the mobile phone instruments — were "recovered'' after the event and were therefore not admissible. He said the investigation, by senior and decorated police officers of Delhi Police's Special Cell, looked like "an exercise by novices to construct the claim of conspiracy".

Mr. Kannabiran drew attention to the fact that the police had admitted, under oath, that they violated the legal provisions pertaining to arrests and investigations. He said the prosecution was required to explain the illegalities in investigation "to the satisfaction of the law". This aspect should not be disregarded as "police officers in this country are only accountable in the witness box. If they are not called to account by the court this comes in the way of justice."

Earlier, defence counsel, Nitya Ramakrishnan, showed that senior police officers of Delhi Police's Special Cell in charge of the case had lied under oath about the conduct of the investigation.

The ACP, Ashok Chand, had denied knowing that Mohammed Afzal had been brought before the media while in custody. However, the ACP, Rajbir Singh, had testified that the decision to allow the media in was taken with the approval of his senior officer.

Rajbir Singh had claimed that Shaukat Hussain had been taken to the site of a raid on December 20. But in his statement to the court he had said that all raids had been completed by December 18.

The police claims linking the accused with the purchase of the motorcycle used by the militants did not stand up to scrutiny. There was no police record of when and where their witness identified them. Whether or not the witness, Sushil Kumar, actually worked at the motorcycle shop as is claimed was also not established.

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