Verdict out, Kasab guilty
Mumbai, May 3
Judge ML Tahilyani of the special court set up to hear the case, however, acquitted two Indians — Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Shaikh — of charges of conspiracy by giving them a benefit of doubt. Kasab (22) may face death sentence when the quantum of punishment, hearing for which commences tomorrow, is announced.
Delivering the verdict, the judge said Kasab was found guilty of all charges framed against him. The court also held that 20 others — including Lashkar-e-Toiba’s (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed and its other prominent leaders like Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Abu Hamza — wanted in connection with the case were also guilty of conspiracy.
“You have been found guilty of waging war against India, and killing people at CST station, killing government officials and abetting the other nine terrorists,” judge ML Tahilyani told Kasab, a native of Faridkot in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Kasab was held guilty under various sections of IPC, Arms Act, Explosives Substances Act, Explosives Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Customs Act and Foreigners Act.
The judge concurred with the prosecution that the conspiracy to carry out the attacks was planned in Pakistan.
Acquitting Ansari and Sabauddin, the court struck down the prosecution’s arguments that they supplied maps and provided logistical support to Kasab and the nine other terrorists, involved in Mumbai carnage that left 166 persons, including 25 foreigners dead on November.26, 2008.
The court ruled that the maps, allegedly provided by the duo, were crude drawings. “Better maps of the city are available on Google,” it observed.
Regarding the killing of top officers of the Mumbai police, the court ruled that Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte was killed by Kasab’s partner Abu Ismail. The killers of Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare and senior Inspector Vijay Salaskar cannot be determined, the court said.
Earlier in the trial, the prosecution argued that Kasab had fully participated in the conspiracy to carry out the attack and was not just used as a pawn by his LeT handlers.
Lawyers for Ansari and Shaikh had argued that the reconnaissance work for the attack was carried out by Pakistan-American David Coleman Headley, while the duo was framed by the Mumbai police. Security was tightened at the Arthur Road Jail premises where the special court is located ahead of today’s verdict. There were restrictions on mediapersons entering the court room.
Meanwhile, public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters that the acquittal of Ansari and Shaikh would be challenged. Speaking to reporters outside the court, Nikam said the two were notorious terrorists and active members of Lashkar. “We will recommend to the government to challenge the verdict,” Nikam said.
The trial began last year at the special court set up within the Arthur Road Jail. The evidence runs into 3,192 pages and 658 witnesses were examined. Among those who gave evidence at the trial included officials from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the FBI, the Mumbai attackers used technology like the Global Positioning System and their mobile phones were equipped with Voice Over Internet Protocol to communicate with Pakistan handlers.
According to the prosecution, the LeT carried out the attacks with support from the Pakistani security agencies.
During the trial, Kasab first said he was a juvenile. He then admitted to being part of the conspiracy but later denied his role completely. Kasab finally declared that he was completely innocent and was framed by the Indian authorities.
The chargesheet against Kasab ran into 11,000 pages. According to the prosecution he was trained in Karachi and other LeT camps.
They were then put on board ‘Al-Hussaini’ boat which dropped them near Porbunder in Gujarat. The terrorists then hijacked an Indian fishing trawler ‘Kuber’ to reach Mumbai’s coast.
The terrorists then arrived by sea near Cuffe Parade off Mumbai on board a dinghy.
Among the places where the terrorists carried out the attacks, included famous landmarks like the Taj and Trident hotels, Nariman House, CST railway station, Cama Hospital and Leopold Cafe.
Mumbai, May 3
Both Ansari, 36, a member of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), and Ahmed, 25, are also accused of involvement in the December 31, 2007, attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. The attack killed seven paramilitary troopers.
The two are being tried for the Rampur attack in an Uttar Pradesh court. Besides, Ahmed is charged with managing Lashkar-e-Toiba hideouts in Nepal and shepherding militants into India across a porous border with Nepal.
Ansari and Ahmed were arrested in February 2008 for the Rampur attack by the Uttar Pradesh Police before they were formally charged with giving details of Mumbai to the LeT.
The information helped lone surviving terrorist Kasab and nine of his accomplices to launch the 26/11 mayhem killing 166 people. Brought up in Mumbai’s Goregaon suburb, Ansari had allegedly forwarded hand-drawn maps to the LeT through Ahmed, who was then camping in Kathmandu.
One of the maps, police claimed, was found on Kasab's slain partner Abu Ismail. But the defence denied the “false and fabricated“ charge as the map looked fresh, had no folds and wasn’t crumpled.
Defence lawyers said there was no reason to believe the two had drawn city maps and provided them to the LeT.
The prosecution said Ansari, who claims to be a devout Muslim, went to Dubai in 2003 in search of work and was allegedly recruited by the LeT there. He moved to Pakistan and visited Mumbai regularly. In November 2007, according to the prosecution, he came to the city on a Pakistani passport (BM 680934) as Hammad Hassan and surveyed the attack sites. — IANS
Good news, says Lakhvi’s counsel
Lahore: A lawyer defending the seven Pakistanis, including LeT top commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, accused of involvement in the Mumbai attacks today claimed an Indian court's verdict against Kasab would result in the dropping of the main charge against his clients. The defence lawyer said they were confident that bail would now be granted to their clients."Our case in the Supreme Court for Lakhvi's acquittal has become much stronger after the Indian court's verdict," said Khwaja Sultan, the counsel for Lakhvi.
Lahore: A lawyer defending the seven Pakistanis, including LeT top commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, accused of involvement in the Mumbai attacks today claimed an Indian court's verdict against Kasab would result in the dropping of the main charge against his clients.
The defence lawyer said they were confident that bail would now be granted to their clients."Our case in the Supreme Court for Lakhvi's acquittal has become much stronger after the Indian court's verdict," said Khwaja Sultan, the counsel for Lakhvi. — PTI