'Pained to know Rana is acquitted of criminal conspiracy in 26/11 attack'
The verdict of a United States court holding Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana not guilty for the Mumbai terror attacks would not affect the legal proceedings against terrorist Ajmal Kasab and the charge against Lashkar-e-Tayiba of masterminded the strikes, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said on Friday.
"However, it pains me to hear how Rana was exonerated from criminal conspiracy of 26/11 terror attack particularly when co-accused David Headley's evidence about complicity of both of them in the conspiracy has been accepted by the court," Nikam said.
Rana was acquitted by a Chicago court on the charges of plotting the Mumbai attacks but was found guilty of supporting LeT and planning a strike in Denmark.
The law of conspiracy in the US, United Kingdom, India and Pakistan is very clear to the effect that once a conspiracy is hatched and participants have been involved in it, then it is not necessary that conspirators should do overt acts, as conspiracy itself is a punishable offence, said Nikam, who was prosecutor in the Mumbai court that conducted the 26/11 trial.
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Image: Special Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters
'Pakistan should now implead Headley as a wanted accused'
Once the Chicago court accepted the theory of conspiracy about the involvement of Rana and Headley in plotting various terrorist acts then the court ought to have held Rana guilty of 26/11 terror attacks, Nikam said.
However, this judgement is significant for the judicial finding of the American court that Headley was a conspirator of the 26/11 terror attacks. This finding can be used in the 26/11 attack trial in Pakistan, Nikam said.
"The Pakistani authorities should now implead Headley as a wanted accused and, after tendering pardon to him, record his evidence through video conference for punishing the participants of 26/11 terror attacks against whom the trial is pending in the neighbouring country," Nikam said.
Pakistani authorities can also rely on Headley's version and book other persons who were named by Headley in the 26/11 criminal conspiracy if that country wants to fight terrorism, Nikam said.
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Image: David Coleman Headley
'Judgement of the Chicago court is contradictory'
Pakistan should not merely blame India for not furnishing evidence against the perpetrators of 26/11 terror attacks, he said. "The judgement of the Chicago court is contradictory because on one hand it has held Rana liable for aiding LeT in facilitating the 26/11 terror attacks and on the other it has exonerated Rana from the charges of plotting the Mumbai strikes," Nikam said.
The Bombay high court had in February this year upheld the trial court's verdict holding Ajmal Kasab guilty of participating in the 26/11 terror attacks. He is now awaiting the Supreme Court's permission to file an appeal against the High court judgement.
Image: Ajmal Kasab at the special trial court