HC reserves order on Kasab''s appeal against death sentence

Posted By: Pti
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Mumbai, Jan 17 (PTI) After hearing arguments for threemonths, the Bombay High Court today reserved till February 7its order on the appeal filed by Pakistani terrorist AjmalKasab against the death sentence awarded to him for his rolein the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice R V More alsoreserved order on an appeal filed by the MaharashtraGovernment challenging the acquittal of LeT suspects FaheemAnsari and Sabauddin Ahmed, who were charged with providingmaps of targets to terrorists.

The arguments concluded today after which the judgesreserved judgement.

Court room no. 49 on the second floor of the highcourt building, where the arguments were held from October 18,had turned into a fortress with tight security. Every daysniffer dogs came to look for suspicious objects. Journalistsand lawyers were given identity cards and entry was strictlyregulated.

For the first time video conference link was put up inthe high court for hearing appeals. Cameras were installed inthe court to enable Kasab hear the proceedings from the jail.

Kasab had appeared on the screen for a few daysinitially. On the second day of the hearing he had thrown atantrum and picked up an argument with jail guards besidesspitting at the web camera. He even told the court that heshould be sent to America. The court rejected his plea andwarned him to behave.

Government Counsel Ujjwal Nikam justified the deathsentence awarded to Kasab, saying he had committed heinouscrime by participating in terror strikes in which 166 personswere killed.

During the hearing, Nikam displayed photographs ofKasab and slain terrorist Abu Ismael, which showed themindulging in terror acts in and outside Chhatarapati ShivajiRailway Terminus (CST). The pictures had been clicked by twomedia photographers. He also showed the court the CCTVfootages from cameras installed at CST, showing Kasab andIsmael moving about with rifles.

Nikam argued that the court had erred in partiallyaccepting Kasab''s confession before a Magistrate. It had to beaccepted in toto and not partially; Kasab''s act of retractinghis confession in the trial court was an "after-thought" and"well advised", argued Nikam. .

At the behest of LeT, Kasab and others had come from Pakistan to attack Mumbai. They were told to take as manyhostages as possible to demand creation of a separate statefor Muslims and liberation of Kashmir, the Government Counselsaid, adding this was clear from the telephonic talks theterrorists had with their Pakistani handlers.

Nikam said Kasab was captured at Girgaum chowpatty bypolice after an encounter in which he killed police officerTukaram Ombale.

However, Kasab alleged that police had staged a falseencounter at Chowpatty to implicate him.

Kasab also denied his presence at CST when theincident occurred. His lawyer Amin Solkar argued that CCTVfootages did not show Kasab''s face clearly. He alleged thatsome footages were shown and others were "suppressed" by theprosecution to implicate Kasab.

About the photographs of Kasab in terror acts, hislawyer argued that they were morphed. He said the trial was"unfair" and demanded retrial. He said some importantwitnesses had not been examined. However, the high courtrejected his plea for a fresh trial.

Kasab also denied that he had killed police officersHemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamate.

His lawyer Amin Solkar referred to the trial court''sobservation which said that bullets recovered from bodies ofKarkare and Salaskar did not match with Kasab''s rifle althoughbullets in Kamate''s body tallied with Ismael''s weapon.

Kasab''s lawyer said Karkare was in constant touch ontelephone with the control room and demanded that records ofwireless phone should be called for.

Solkar wondered why Karkare and other officers hadtaken a longer route to Cama Hospital when they were in closevicinity and asked why did they proceed in the direction whereterrorists were hiding despite being warned by the controlroom.

Kasab denied that he had come from Pakistan along withother terrorists in a dinghy. He said he had come by SamjhautaExpress to Delhi and later went to Mumbai to see Hindi films.

He was arrested at Juhu beach and was in police custody whenthe terror attacks took place.

Nikam countered this by saying that Kasab was a liarand plotter who invented stories from time to time during thetrial. However, when Kasab came up with a new story he gottrapped in his own web of lies.

About Faheem and Sabauddin, both Indian citizens, Nikamsaid that trial court had erred in acquitting them. Faheem hadgot a passport from Pakistan on the basis of fake documents.

Faheem, he said, had gone to Pakistan and at the behestof LeT he drew maps of targets and gave it to Sabauddin inNepal. Sabauddin then passed them on to LeT. Nikam showed thepassport to the court which had an entry of Faheem''s visitfrom Pakistan to Nepal. .

Nikam said Faheem had stayed under assumed name of Sahil Pawaskar in South Mumbai where the terror attacks tookplace. He also sought admission in a computer institute underthe same name. Nikam referred to evidence of a witness whosaid he had seen Faheem giving map to Sabauddin in Nepal.

Faheem''s lawyer R B Mokashi denied his client''s rolein the 26/11 attacks. He said holding forged Pakistanipassport did not prove Faheem''s role in the attacks. He saidthe map found in slain terrorist Abu Ismael''s pocket (claimedby prosecution as drawn by Faheem) was "planted".

Sabauddin''s lawyer Ejaz Naqvi said Sabauddin had notmet Faheem in Nepal. The prosecution had produced only onewitness to prove that Faheem gave map to Sabauddin but did notprovide any corroborative evidence, he argued and said thetrial court had rightly given the benefit of doubt to both theaccused.

On May 6, the trial court had given capital punishmentto Kasab but acquitted Faheem and Sabauddin on the ground thatevidence against them was doubtful.

The prosecution had alleged that conspiracy was hatchedin Pakistan by LeT on whose instructions Kasab and nine otherssailed from Karachi by Al-hussieni boat on way to Mumbai.

Mid-way they hijacked fishing trawler Kuber and killed itsnavigator Amarsing Solanki and four other crew members beforereaching mumbai in a dinghy brought by them from Pakistan. PTISVS KRK

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