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26/11: Judge rejects accused's plea to examine Rahul Bhatt

February 23, 2010 18:00 IST

A special court conducting the 26/11 Mumbai attacks trial on Tuesday rejected a plea by one of the two Indian accused for examining film-maker Mahesh Bhatt's son Rahul and three others as defence witnesses.

In another development, the court asked the prosecution and the defence to be ready to start the final arguments on March 9.

Besides Rahul, the application by Sabahuddin Ahmed had also sought the examination of National Investigation Agency Chief S C Sinha, Gujarat Director General of Police S S Khandwawala and fitness instructor Vilas Warak.

Fahim Ansari is the other Indian accused.

Special Judge M L Tahaliyani said the accused had not made it clear what he wanted to bring on record from the four witnesses.

Therefore, it would be of no use to examine them and would be a waste of time, he said. Sabahuddin's lawyer Ejaz Naqvi told the court on Tuesday that he wanted to examine Rahul and others to establish that it was US terror suspect David Headley who had conducted the 'recce' of Mumbai before the 26/11 attacks, and not Sabahuddin as alleged by the prosecution.

Asked by the judge as to what evidence Rahul Bhatt and Vilas Warak can give, Naqvi said the duo were Headley's close friends and had visited several places in the city with him.

Headley, a Pakistani-American is currently in US custody in connection with the Mumbai attack. However, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had opposed the application of Sabahuddin stating that the evidence of these witness was not relevant in the trial and also that Naqvi was working on a hypothesis that the whole 26/11 attack took place because of Headley.

The prosecution submitted affidavits of 43 witnesses to the court on Tuesday.

Nikam said he would submit four more affidavits tomorrow. Thereafter, all the three accused, including the lone surviving Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab, would be asked to make statements in reply to these affidavits.

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