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Verdict: Kasab guilty

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Later developments: Closure: reports of Kasab’s execution on November 21, 2012 and Almost the final word: reports on the legal process which preceded it.

May 3, 2010
TOI reports the expected:

Pakistani terrorist, Ajmal Amir Kasab, charged with the deaths of 166 Indians and foreigners, has been pronounced guilty of all charges by a special court in Mumbai. The two Indians, who were named as co-accused in the case– Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Shaikh, have been acquitted.

“You have been found guilty of waging war against India, and killing people at CST (train station), killing government officials and abetting the other nine terrorists,” Judge M.L. Tahaliyani said as he announced his verdict. They were the most serious charges laid against Kasab, a 22-year-old Pakistani who was arrested after the Mumbai siege.

IE‘s article contains the following two quotes from the judgement:

“As the bullets had passed through the bodies of both Karkare and Salaskar, the court cannot come to a conclusion on who shot them. However, it is proven that Ismail shot Kamte,” said the court.

“Kasab is found directly guilty of killing Tukaram Omble, Amarsinh Solanki, Sitaram Mallappa, Rehmatullah, Vinod Gupta, Ambadas Pawar and Rajaf Ansari. He is responsible for abetting the murder of others killed on the night of November 26,” observed the court.

In its lead article on the story, IE summarizes the court’s arguments:

The court said that the charge of waging war against Kasab had been proved by the telephonic conversations the 10 gunmen had with their handlers in Pakistan, the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology used to mask the identities of their phones and the GPS systems used to navigate their way from Karachi to Mumbai by sea.

That the perpetrators of the attack had bought a Yamaha outboard boat engine from Japan, and the mobile phones that they used later, showed that the “attack conspiracy was pre-planned and well-detailed, indicating it was war waged against India”, the court said.

Holding Kasab guilty of criminal conspiracy, Tahilyani observed, “There can never be direct witnesses to a criminal conspiracy. It is always hatched in secrecy. Conspiracy continued until they mounted the attack on Mumbai.”

The court rejected Kasab’s claim that he was in Mumbai before the attack to watch Bollywood movies and had been framed in the case.

“As per his confessional statement which he has retracted later in court, the law of prudence holds ground and the court can rely on the statement if it is corroborated by other evidence. The prosecution has, through three independent witnesses, railway announcer Madhukar Zende, photographers Sebastian D’souza and Shriram Vernekar, established that Kasab was at CST, with his deceased partner,” Judge Tahaliyani said.

TOI digs out this interesting fact:

Even if Ajmal Kasab gets death penalty in the fastest trial in a terror case, the actual punishment may not come to him as fast, leaving the government with no option but to spend a huge sum on his security, possibly for years till he is finally hanged.

Since Kasab has the option to appeal against the order of the trial court in high court and subsequently in Supreme Court before finally moving his mercy petition to President of India, it will provide him relief for years the way it is for 50 other convicts who have been on death row for years, pending their mercy petitions.

And as home minister P Chidambaram reiterated on Monday that the government would take up each case according to the order in which it was pending before the home ministry and President, it means Kasab’s turn will come much later and that too after the cases of killers of former PM Rajiv Gandhi and the convict of Parliament House attack case Afzal Guru come to conclusion.

Arthur road jail

The Arthur Road Jail and the infamous "Anda Cell" where Kasab may spend many years after sentencing

Dawn reports this reaction from Ksab’s village:

The town of Faridkot in the Pakistani farming belt of Punjab province has become notorious as the home of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, convicted of taking part in the November 2008 bloodbath that killed 166 people in Mumbai.

Power supplies were down due to Pakistan’s dire electricity crisis, but the verdict was the talk of the town as people sat in shops and small restaurants along the main road awaiting news of his fate.

Minutes after the power spluttered back and as children in shabby clothes tussled in the unpaved road, news channels announced that the 22-year-old had been pronounced guilty of murder and waging war against India.

“This is all against Pakistan. Ajmal is a child and he cannot commit this incident,” said Muhammad Iqbal, a farmer in his late 50s. He was also angry at the acquittal of two Indian suspects.

“Why was there no equal sentence for all the culprits and why has only Ajmal been declared a criminal?” His small group were defensive, even outraged. Around 10,000 people live in the town, most of them labourers and farmers, few of them literate.

Dawn‘s own take on the news is more cautious:

Perhaps it is also apt that the news of the conviction came within days of the governments of India and Pakistan agreeing to move on to a ‘post-Mumbai’ phase in relations by developing a new framework for talks. Moving on from Mumbai, though, requires learning the right lessons from experience. First, it is fairly clear that the attacks were launched to push Pakistan and India apart, and perhaps even to the brink of war. That common sense ultimately prevailed is a good thing. But there were enough warning signs to suggest that common sense may not necessarily prevail the next time, so everything possible must be done to prevent a repeat.

This is a complex task as it involves dealing with reality as well as perception. Pakistan is still blamed by India for not doing enough to clamp down on the groups that are capable of future Mumbai-style attacks. One way to wash away this perception is by proceeding expeditiously with the trial of all those currently in the dock for involvement in the Mumbai attacks in Pakistan. Of course, the acquittal of two Indian nationals also on trial with Kasab indicates the complexity of such trials.

May 6, 2010
NDTV reports the sentence handed out to Kasab:

One of the reasons cited by the 26/11 special court to award death penalty on Ajmal Kasab for his role in terror attacks was that keeping him alive would be a lingering danger to India, keeping in mind the 1999 Kandahar plane hijacking case.

The court also said the probability of Kasab reforming was ruled out considering the barbaric manner in which he has behaved.

Kasab was awarded the death penalty on five counts of murder, abetment to murder, conspiracy, waging war against India and committing terror acts.

He was further sentenced to life imprisonment on five counts of attempt to murder, conspiracy to wage war, collecting arms to wage war, kidnapping with an intention to murder and causing explosion to endanger life.

Sep 20, 2010

Hindu reports:

The Bombay High Court on Monday decided to hear on a daily basis from October 18 the confirmation of death sentence awarded to Ajmal Kasab for his role in 26/11 attacks and allowed the State’s plea to produce Pakistani gunman through video conference in view of security concerns.

Government counsel Ujjwal Nikam said Kasab had threat to his life and it would be a risky affair for police to bring him every day from Central jail, 10 km away from the High Court.

A bench headed by Justice Ranjana Desai suggested that Kasab could appear through video conference. To this, Mr. Nikam said the State would take two weeks to have this facility installed in the court by October 18 with the help of MTNL.

The judges said the court will not further wait for Kasab to file an appeal but go ahead with confirmation of capital punishment given to him on May 6 by the trial court.

They said the 60-day period for filing appeal after the judgement had already lapsed but allowed Kasab to file appeal anytime before October 18.

TOI adds:

A bench headed by Justice Ranjana Desai told Kasab’s lawyer Farhana Shah that the 60-day period provided in law for filing an appeal had already lapsed.

The judges made it clear that they would go ahead with the confirmation of death sentence imposed on him by the lower court on a day-to-day basis from October 11 or October 18. In the meantime, Kasab can file an appeal.

On May 6, Kasab was sentenced to death for killing along with other terrorists 166 people on November 26, 2008. On May 24, he was served a copy of the judgement in jail. Later, the High Court appointed lawyers Amin Solkar and Farhana Shah to defend him.


One Response

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  1. […] Kasab was sentenced to death by a Mumbai anti-terror court on May 6, 2010; the order was later upheld by the Bombay High Court on October 10, […]

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