Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kasab's lawyer asks for one month to study chargesheet

MUMBAI: Ajmal Amir Kasab’s lawyer, Abbas Kazmi, refused to open his arguments on Tuesday asking the court for a month’s time to read the 1,000-page chargesheet. He also informed the court on Kasab’s request for a copy of the chargesheet in Urdu so that he could study the evidence against him.

Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam took objection to Kazmi’s pleas and told the court that these were ‘‘ tactics to delay the trial’’ . He also argued that there was no legal responsibility for the court to supply Kasab with an Urdu chargesheet.

Kazmi quoted extensively from previous judgments to argue that he must be given ‘‘sufficient time’’ to study the charges levelled by the prosecution so that he could come up with an ‘‘adequate strategy’’ to defend Kasab. He emphasised that he was appointed to defend Kasab only on April 16, and had little time to read the documents related to the case.

Judge M L Tahaliyani seemed to agree in principle with Kazmi that lawyers should get sufficient time to study the charges, but added, ‘‘ How much time is for me to decide’’. He will pass an order on the plea on Wednesday.

Kasab sat quietly in the courtroom and observed the proceedings keenly. Kazmi had informed court that Kasab wanted to give him ‘‘detailed instructions’’ during the trial and thus wanted to read the charges himself. ‘‘This is not a kangaroo court. It is a historical trial with international ramifications and the accused must be given every opportunity to defend himself,’’ Kazmi argued.

On Tuesday, Nikam also filed an application asking the court to conduct an inquiry into whether Kasab was a minor or not. Kasab has claimed that he was less than 17-years-old when the attack took place. It is now up to Judge Tahaliyani to decide whether he wants to send him for medical tests to verify the fact.


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