Ajmal Amir Kasab’s conviction for the 26/11 attack has cleared the decks for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to file a chargesheet against American-Pakistani Lashkar operative David Coleman Headley, in Mumbai.
The NIA was holding back filing formal charges against Headley due to concerns that the accused in the primary terror attack case involving Kasab and others could use the new chargesheet to delay their trial.
Investigations by the NIA and the US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation have confirmed suspicions that Headley had played a key role in the 26/11 conspiracy including identifying potential targets and the landing sites for the terror team from Pakistan.
The home ministry officials, who insisted that an Indian probe team would be able to get access to Headley soon, said a decision on the timing and format of the access could come this week.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram —who complimented the prosecutors and investigators for marshalling the evidence and proving beyond reasonable doubt that Kasab and his associates were guilty — is expected to take the call on access to Headley after his meeting with the Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium in a day or so.
“The court has convicted certain accused. It also acquitted two accused. That shows the independence, fearlessness and integrity of the court,” he said, complimenting the prosecution and the investigation agencies.
Chidambaram, who had backed the move to get Kasab a lawyer for his trial when representatives of the bar discouraged their members from taking up his case, recalled the criticism —”swayed by emotion and anger” — in certain quarters.
“…we maintained that Kasab and the other accused ought to be tried in accordance with law and that they should have all the rights that are available to an accused under Indian law,” he said.
“It was an open trial. Kasab was represented by counsel. He was given full opportunity to plead his case,” the minister, who had been closely monitoring the proceedings, said.