Kasab gets government lawyer, trial to start April 6


Mumbai : Captured Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir alias Kasab Monday got a court-appointed government lawyer to defend him in the Nov 26, 2008 attacks in Mumbai and the special court set April 6 as the date for the trial to start.

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Special Judge M.L. Tahilyani announced the name of Anjali Waghmare, who is on the Maharashtra Legal Aid Committee, as the lawyer who will represent Kasab during the trial.

The special judge also asked the two other co-accused – Lashkar-e-Taiba activists Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Mohammed – to finalise their lawyers for the trial.

While Sabahuddin expressed his willingness to go ahead with Mumbai criminal lawyer Aejaz Naqvi, Ansari named three lawyers acceptable to him – Mobin Solkar, Haider Ali Momin and Sudip Pasbola. But Tahilyani said that none of them were empanelled on the Legal Aid Committee and suggested some other names.

At this, Ansari expressed his willingness to continue with his former lawyer Naqvi. Incidentally, Naqvi had earlier represented both Ansari and Sabahuddin.

The trio appeared in video-conference before the special court for the second time since a magistrate committed the case to the sessions court.

Last Monday, when the Special Court trying the Mumbai terror attacks opened, Special Judge Tahilyani completed various pre-trial formalities that continued Monday.

At the first hearing last week, Kasab, while admitting that he was a native of Pakistan from Faridkot, had requested Tahilyani that he wanted to engage a lawyer.

Since he was unable to afford hiring a lawyer, the option before him was to engage one from the Legal Aid Committee or an amicus curie (friend of the court).

The trial will formally open next Monday at the Special Court set up inside the Z-Plus secured precincts of the Arthur Road Central Jail in south-central Mumbai.

The jail is also being guarded by a three-tiered security force comprising the Mumbai police, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the jail’s own security ring.

On Feb 25, Mumbai Police filed a voluminous chargesheet running into over 11,000 pages against Kasab and 37 others, including Ansari and Mohammed.

The remaining 35 have been listed as ‘wanted absconders’ in the chargesheet. Among the charges under different sections of various Indian laws are waging war against the nation, terrorist activities, kidnapping, entering the country illegally, attempt to murder, murders, planning and abetting the Mumbai terror attacks and conspiracy.

Nine associates of Kasab were killed by the combined security operations that battled the terrorists for 60 hours at several locations, including a busy railway terminus, luxury hotels and a Jewish centre, all in south Mumbai.

The carnage resulted in the death of over 170 Indians, foreigners and security personnel and over 300 people were injured.

Among the 18 security personnel killed were National Security Guard (NSG)’s Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, and three of the finest officers of the Mumbai police, including Anti-Terrorist Squad Chief Hemant Karkare, Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar.