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Ajmal ‘Kasab’ gets a new lawyer

Staff Reporter

Special court trying 26/11 cases appoints Abbas Kazmi

— Photo: Vivek Bendre

Abbas Kazmi, newly appointed lawyer for Ajmal ‘Kasab’, entering the special court in Mumbai on Thursday.

Mumbai: The special sessions court at the Arthur Road jail on Thursday appointed advocate Abbas Kazmi as the new lawyer for the lone surviving 26/11 gunman, Mohammad Ajmal Amir ‘Kasab.’

Mr. Kazmi’s appointment comes a day after the court revoked the appointment of Anjali Waghmare as she had kept silent about representating a victim of the Mumbai terror attack in a compensation case.

In response to judge M.L. Tahaliyani’s missive to the Bar Association and to newspaper reports, the day saw a handful of lawyers attend court with a willingness to offer legal assistance. The judge asked Mr. Kazmi if he was willing to defend Ajmal, to which the advocate said, “I am willing.”

Mr. Kazmi is not on Maharashtra’s legal aid panel. However, the court vested the government with the task of deciding on reasonable fees for him. It noted that the decision to appoint a lawyer external to the panel could not be cited as a precedent.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said Pakistan had once again not replied to Ajmal’s demand for a lawyer.

The court took a stern view of the stand of another accused, Fahim Ansari, on his legal counsel. Ansari has been asking for time to find a lawyer. He is not decided on Ejaz Naqvi, who has represented him in a few hearings.

Mr. Tahaliyani told Ansari that he could not waste the court’s time any longer. As an ad hoc arrangement, Mr. Naqvi will represent Ansari till he finds a lawyer. To insure against Mr. Naqvi’s appointment running into troubled waters, Mr. Tahaliyani appointed advocates A.K. Walawalkar and Suhas Gaikwad as stand-bys.

Mr. Naqvi stays on for the third accused, Mohammad Sabahuddin, who burst forth in Hindi in the court on Thursday: “What is the need to get tensed [over the appointment of a lawyer].” Mr. Tahaliyani told him there was no such tension.

Mr. Nikam told the court on Thursday that the investigation in the 26/11 cases was still on and a supplementary charge sheet was expected to be filed. Investigators were working with foreign experts. “We would like to examine foreign experts,” he said.

Mr. Nikam will open the case on Friday. However, on Thursday, he listed brief facts of the 12 incidents comprising the 26/11 terror attacks cases. There are 12 cases corresponding to the incidents and Ajmal has been booked in all of them. He is directly involved in seven and is a co-conspirator in the rest.

Mr. Nikam contended that instead of looking at the incidents as separate acts, considering their cumulative effect was more important. As he repeatedly named Ajmal in his address, the latter watched him intently.

The police have recovered 756 articles and the first set will be produced in court on Friday.

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