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Post numerous flip-flops, 26/11 judgment is a historic verdict

By Vicky Nanjappa
Last updated on: May 03, 2010 15:58 IST
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The Mumbai 26/11 verdict is historic in nature. It is the fastest ever trial that has been conducted in connection with a terrorist case in India, and secondly it is for the first time that statements of foreign agencies have been taken into account while pronouncing the verdict.

The trial is also significant for many other reasons. It has had a record number of witnesses (658), out of which 296 were examined in a record 271 days. The rest of them had sworn on affidavit.

Apart from this, during the trial, 1,015 articles pertaining to the investigation were submitted, and there were 1,700 documents to support the case on part of the prosecution.

Another interesting part of the trial was that there were a lot of technological factors attached to it. This part of the deposition was mainly handled by the United States of America's Federal Bureau of Investigation, which gave a lot of information on the Global Positioning System, voice over internet protocol, all of which was used by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba operatives to undertake the deadly operation. Apart from this, a lot of reliance was placed on the footage that was obtained from close circuit televisions.

The case also saw three lawyers defending the prime accused Ajmal Kasab. The first advocate Anjali Waghmare was removed on technical grounds, while the second lawyer, Abbas Kazmi, was removed for non-cooperation with the court. It was K P Pawar who finally defended him till the end.

The biggest headache, however, for both the prosecution and the court were Kasab's flip-flops during the trial. However, legal experts pointed out that this factor went against him, since it was signifying the conduct of Kasab -- who is now a convict.

The flip-flops

In the course of the trial, which lasted a year, Kasab has changed his statements on five occasions. In February 2009, he had told the magistrate's court that he had opened fire on a police van, which killed three police officers. However, five months later, he changed that statement and said it was Abu Ismail who did it.

Kasab then detailed the roles played by his Pakistan-based handlers, thus making it clear that the entire plot was hatched and planned in Pakistan. However, four months later, he gave the Abu Jundal spin to the story and said it was an Indian handler who orchestrated the attack.

Kasab after admitting that he had opened fire in the Cama Hospital backtracked at a later stage. He then admitted to killing police constable Tukaram Ombale, only to later retract by saying that he could not shoot at that time since he was injured.

The final retraction came when he said that the police had forced him to make a confessional statement.

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Vicky Nanjappa