Court reserves order to examine US witnesses in 26/11 case

Court reserves order to examine US witnesses in 26/11 case

Their examination would throw light on the telephonic communication between terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan during the terror attacks in Mumbai on November 26 last year, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said.

The witnesses' deposition will expose the nature of the conspiracy which has international ramifications. However, their identities have been kept under wraps as there is a threat to their lives, Nikam said.

He further submitted that under section 273 of CrPC, evidence is required to be recorded in the presence of accused and this could be done through video conference.

However, lawyer Abbas Kazmi, representing prime accused Mohammed Kasab, opposed the prosecution plea saying there was no extradition treaty between India and US and if a witness gave false evidence he could not be tried for perjury (giving false evidence).

Nikam submitted that there existed a treaty between the two countries on mutual legal assistance and if it is established that a witness has given false evidence, an Indian court had the powers to take cognisance of such offence.

After hearing arguments, judge M L Tahaliyani said he would give the order tomorrow.
Witness identifies Kasab in court, says he stole Skoda car

A witness in the 26/11 terror attack case today identified prime accused Mohammed Ajmal Kasab in the court saying he was one of the two terrorists who had hijacked Skoda car at gunpoint near Mantralaya.

Deposing before judge M L Tahaliyani, Samit Azgaonkar said his friend Sharan Arasa had given him a lift in his Skoda car on the day of terror attack in the city. When they reached Valmiki chowk they heard a burst of firing.

"Near Inox theatre we saw a police vehicle approaching us. Two persons got down from the vehicle, one was tall and the other short. The shorter person (pointing at Kasab) asked us to get down from the car," he told prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.

The taller person (slain terrorist Abu Ismael) went to Sharan who was in driver's seat and forcibly pulled him out from the car, the witness said.

The taller one occupied the driver's seat while the other terrorist sat on the front seat near him but they soon realised that car keys were not in the vehicle.

The shorter person, then, ran up to Sharan and asked him to submit the keys lying on the ground near the car, the witness said.

Kasab was seen smiling at the prosecutor very often during the trial, prompting the judge to remark in lighter vein "he seems to be fond of you".Kasab's lawyer Abbas Kazmi also remarked "Kasab is Nikam's friend and therefore he is smiling."Nikam replied, "Kasab knows he has few days (for the trial to get over) and hence he may be trying to strike a friendship."A total of 150 witnesses have deposed so far and the trial is expected to conclude within a month, Nikam said.