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26/11 trial: Prosecution to wind up case tomorrow?

By Prasanna D Zore
Last updated on: December 15, 2009 20:51 IST
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In what could be termed as a key moment in the 157-day long trial of Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested during the November 26, 2008 attacks in Mumbai, the prosecution -- led by Special Public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam -- is likely to wind up its case on Wednesday.

"The prosecution is likely to wind up its case on Wednesday," Nikam said, speaking to media persons after the court proceedings.

"Some police officers are likely to depose on Wednesday," he said. However, he did not spell out the names of these witnesses. However, it has been learnt that Additional Commissioner of Police Deven Bharti is likely to depose before the court on Wednesday.

Deven Bharti is in the eye of a storm after the then police commissioner and the current director general of police (housing), Hassan Gafoor -- in a magazine interview -- named the latter as one of the officers who was 'not too keen to be on the field' when the terrorists struck Mumbai on November 26 last year.

As per the court procedure, in the second stage defence lawyers are allowed to produce their own witnesses once the court takes on record the deposition of prosecution's witnesses. It is not yet known if defence lawyer K P Pawar is likely to produce any witnesses in defence of his client Ajmal Kasab referred to as 'accused number 1' in the court.

In case of Pawar wanting to examine his witnesses in court, Judge M L Tahaliyani will have to issue summons to these witnesses. In the third phase once the deposition of these witnesses -- if at all Pawar wants to examine any -- is over the judge will record the statements of the three accused (accused number 1 Ajmal Kasab, accused number 2 Fahim Ansari and accused number 3 Sabauddin Shaikh) under section 313 of the criminal procedure code.

In the penultimate phase, the prosecution and the defence will argue the case based on the evidence recorded by the court. Finally, judge M L Tahaliyani will give his judgment in one of the most historic cases in India.

The state government too wants a speedy end to the Kasab trial besieged as it is by pressure from the opposition as both the parties had tried to score brownie points over each other during the 157-day long trial.

Meanwhile, defence lawyer K P Pawar on Tuesday cross-examined witness number 607, chief investigating officer Ramesh Mahale, who was considered one of the most high-profile witness in the case as he took over the reins of investigations since November 27, 2008 -- the day after Mumbai witnessed one of the worst terror attacks.

Interestingly, Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Shaikh on Tuesday cross-examined Mahale in the absence of their lawyers in the court. Ansari and Sabauddin, both alleged Lashkar-e-Tayiba operatives, have been charged with conducting reconnaissance of various locations in Mumbai and passing them on to their leaders in the terror outfit based in Pakistan.

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Prasanna D Zore in Mumbai