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26/11 case to conclude on first anniversary

Last updated on: November 24, 2009 13:18 IST
The prosecution is all set to wind up the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case in a special court on November 26, coinciding with the first anniversary of the dastardly strikes that left 166 dead.

"We have examined 265 witnesses and about ten more are left...the case would be wrapped up by November 26, a year after the terror attacks," special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told PTI.

The evidence of another 300 witnesses would be adduced by filing their affidavits in the court, Nikam said. These witnesses would not be examined personally because they are like the ones who had carried bodies of victims to hospitals, relatives of victims who claimed the bodies, people who suffered damage to their properties and medical officers who treated the victims, the prosecutor said.

"The trial began on May 8 and in about six months we are ready to wind up the case," said Nikam. Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab is facing the trial along with two Indians, Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed.

While Kasab faces charges of multiple murders, others are charged with conspiracy. After prosecution closes its case, defence lawyers may exercise their right to examine their witnesses.

Then the accused would give their statements to the court on what they have to say about the evidence adduced against them. Finally, the court would give verdict after hearing arguments.

With the testimony of 275 witnesses and strong forensic evidence, prosecution has prepared a water-tight case against Kasab, Nikam said.

Kasab is confined to a specially-built isolated cell in the high security central prison and is guarded by a strong posse of Indo-Tibetan Border Police round-the-clock.

Altogether 30 eyewitnesses have identified Kasab in the identification parade in the court. Forensic experts have also given their opinion that the DNA samples collected from the boat--Kuber (in which terrorists landed in Mumbai), matched with the DNA of Kasab and five other slain terrorists.

The prosecution has also screened in the court CCTV footages of terrorists from cameras installed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Times of India Building (opposite CST), Hotel Taj and Hotel Oberoi-Trident.

Besides CCTV footages, weapons and RDX seized from Kasab and the slain terrorists have also been placed as evidence. The prosecution is relying upon Kasab's confession before a Magistrate wherein he recorded the conspiracy hatched in Pakistan to commit Mumbai terror attacks.

The prosecution is also banking on a plea made by Kasab in the court partly accepting his guilt in the crime.

Kasab had admitted in the court to have taken part in the conspiracy but said he played a secondary role in the terror attacks as Abu Ismael was his leader.

The gunman has denied he had fatally shot police officers Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamate and constable Tukaram Omble.

The prosecution is relying upon evidence tendered by foreign experts, who said the mobile phones, used by nine terrorists while talking to their Pakistani handlers during the assault were imported by a Pakistan firm from China to back its case that the plot was hatched in the neighbouring country.

The court has issued non-bailable warrants against 27 absconding accused, including founder of Lashkar-e-Tayiba Hafeez Sayeed and LeT chief of operations Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. The warrants have been forwarded to the Interpol for execution but so far no one has been arrested.

The accused are facing charges under Indian Penal Code, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Foreigners Act, Passport (Entry into India) Act, Arms Act, Explosive Substances Act, Damage to Public Properties Act, Indian Railway Act and Customs Act.

A total of 166 persons, including foreign nationals from UK, USA and Israel, were killed and 304 others injured when terrorists struck at Hotel Taj, Hotel Oberoi-Trident, Nariman House, CST, Cama Hospital and Cafe Leopold. The terrorists also planted bombs in two taxis, which exploded.

Loss on account of destruction of properties was estimated to the tune of Rs 41 crores.

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