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End of terror trial?

The trial against Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, a Pakistani national and alleged Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) operative, might end soon. Vigensh Iyer reports.

india Updated: Jul 20, 2009 23:34 IST
Vigensh Iyer

The trial against Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, a Pakistani national and alleged Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) operative, might end soon.

Legal eagles feel that with Kasab pleading guilty now the judge just has to decide upon the quantum of sentence after ascertaining that he confessed “voluntarily”.

The lone surviving gunman pleaded guilty in the special court on Monday and gave a detailed account of the plot and his role in the Mumbai terror strike that lasted over 60 hours.

Kasab has been charged with 86 separate offences, including murder and waging war against India.

Kasab described to the court his 10-member team’s journey from Karachi, Pakistan, on a boat, their landing in Mumbai on the night of November 26, 2008; and his participation in the firing at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Cama hospital and near Metro Cinema with partner Abu Ismail.

Former sessions court judge and practising lawyer V.P. Patil said: “This is the end of the case. Now the argument would be only on the quantum of the punishment that would be awarded to Kasab. The court just has to ascertain whether Kasab is under pressure from anyone.”

Agreed advocate Asim Sarode. “If the judge is convinced that the statement made by Kasab is at his own will then the judge would start deciding upon the quantum of punishment.”

Special Public Prosecutor in many high-profile cases, including the 2008 Malegaon, Rohini Salian said: “An accused can plead guilty even in the midst of the trial. Now the court is entrusted with the job of ascertaining whether he is in normal mental condition and free from any pressure or allurement.”

If the special court is convinced that he pleaded guilty voluntarily, then Kasab might be sentenced. The trial of the other two suspected LeT operative Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed would be separated, she added.

Calling it an important turning point in an important trial, senior criminal lawyer Majid Memon said: “With Kasab pleading his guilt the trial against him would take very less time. The court just has to see whether his statement is voluntary.”