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Kasab appears in court through video conferencing
March 10, 2009 00:51 IST
Last Updated: March 10, 2009 01:26 IST
Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist caught alive in the Mumbai [Images] carnage, appeared before court for the first time through video conferencing from his prison and the trial in the terror attack is set to begin from March 23.
Metropolitan magistrate Shrimangale committed the case to the sessions court which will have a make-shift arrangement inside the high security Arthur Road prison. The trial will be conducted by sessions judge M L Tahilyani.
Kasab, arrested on November 26, has never been produced in open court due to security concerns and he is presently lodged in a high security barrack of the Arthur Road jail in central Mumbai. Kasab was not present in person at the Court but followed the proceedings from the jail.
The video conferencing lasted for about 15 minutes during which the magistrate asked the Pakistani national to identify himself and if he had received the copy of the 11,000-page chargesheet filed by the Mumbai crime branch. The captured terrorist in a deep baritone voice spoke in Hindi only to confirm his name as Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab [Images] and said, "I have received the chargesheet but I cannot understand it, as it is in English and Marathi."
The magistrate then told Kasab that he is committing the case to the special court and that he can make the request for translated chargesheet before that court on March 23.
The video conferencing was attended by the magistrate,Ujwal Nikam, defence lawyer Ejaz Naqvi appearing for the two alleged Indian Lashkar-e-Tayiba [Images] operatives Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin, and crime branch officials. After Kasab, Faheem Ansari, also an arrested accused in the case, identified himself and told the magistrate that he too wants the chargesheet translated into Urdu, as he does not understand English or Marathi.
Kasab faces charges of murder and "waging war against India," and could be given the death penalty if convicted. magistrate Shrimangale told Faheem that his lawyer, Naqvi will argue his request after which the court will pass its order.
Special public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam while opposing for request for translation made by the accused argued that under Section 272 of the Criminal Procedure Code the state government decides as to what will be the language used in all the courts other than the High Court.
The applications are meant to delay the trial, Nikam said. "According to the circular issued by the Maharashtra government, Marathi is mandatory in all the courts except the High Court," Nikam contended. Magistrate Shrimangale while rejecting the requests directed the defence lawyer Naqvi to file an application in this regard before the special court on March 23.
Nikam also told the court that Kasab has not expressed any desire to appoint an Indian lawyer. "We have sent a letter to Pakistan officials after Kasab sought consular access but we have not received any response as yet," Nikam said.
The other option is that the special court can appoint a lawyer for Kasab from the state legal aid cell if the arrested terrorist does not get one. The Mumbai crime branch on February 25 filed a 11,000-page chargesheet against 38 accused in the November 26 terror strikes here that killed over 170 persons.
Out of the 38 accused, 35 Pakistani nationals and operatives of Lashkar-e-Tayiba have been shown as wanted. Among those include Zaki-ur-Rehman Laqvi, Yousif Muzammil, Abu Kafa, Abu Ramza and Zarar Shah. It also includes names of two suspected armymen - Major General Saab and Colonel R Saadat Ullah. The accused have been charged under various sections of Indian Penal Code including waging war against nation and criminal conspiracy, and under the Foreigners Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Arms Act, Explosives Act and Customs Act.