No Urdu copies of chargesheet to 26/11 accused, hearing on March 23 (Lead)

March 9th, 2009 - 8:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, March 9 (IANS) A Mumbai court Monday dismissed an appeal by Ajmal Amir Kasab, Fahim Ansari and Salahuddin Ahmed, who wanted that the 12,000-page chargesheet accusing them of involvement in the Mumbai terror strikes be given to them in Urdu because they could not understand English or Marathi.
The magistrate N.N. Shrimangale also remanded the hearing of the case to the special court headed by Special Judge M.L. Tahilyani, who will conduct the hearing in a high security courtroom being set up inside south Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail.

The judicial custody of the three accused has been extended till March 23, when the matter will come up before a special court.

While Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive during the Nov 26-29 terror attack, is a Pakistani, Ansari and Ahmed are Indians.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujwal Nikam said the special court would decide on March 23 when the hearing would commence.

He said copies of the chargesheet in English and Marathi were given to the trio.

“However, since the language of the courts in Maharashtra is Marathi, there is no provision to provide the accused with a copy in Urdu.”

Aejaz Naqvi, who represents both Ansari and Ahmed, said his clients and Kasab were not present in person but took part in the proceedings over video-conference.

“The government has adopted a one-sided stand in this case, so I have nothing to comment on the matter,” Naqvi said.

Arguing that the demand by the trio was an “attempt to delay the proceedings”, Nikam said the defence lawyer was living and practicing in Maharashtra and should be well conversant with both English and Marathi.

He said Kasab did not have a lawyer to represent him in the trial but would be provided one through the State Legal Aid Committee.

The Mumbai Police had on Feb 25 filed charges against Kasab and 37 other accused, including Indians and Pakistanis, for planning, abetting the attacks and waging war against India.

The other 37 accused have been listed as “wanted absconders” in the case.

Nine other terrorists were killed during the 60-hour carnage targeting luxury hotels, a Jewish centre of worship and one of the busiest railway terminals of India, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. More than 170 people were dead at the end of the mayhem.

Nikam has said the prosecution plans to complete the trial within three to six months.

Various charges under different laws, including the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act, Explosives Act, Terrorist Act, Customs Act, Immigration Act and others, have been framed against the accused.

The offences against them include kidnapping, attempt to murder, murder, conspiracy of terror, trespassing and damaging public property.

The chargesheet, running into nearly 12,000 pages, comprises the detailed investigations dossier handed over to the Pakistan government, the answers to the “30 questions” raised by Pakistan on the Mumbai probe, and forensic tests reports as well as details of taped conversations.

The terrorists killed in the operation according to the police are Hafeez Arshad alias Bada Abdul Rehman, Javed alias Abu Ali, Shoaib alias Abu Soheb, Umar (killed in Hotel Taj Mahal Palace & Tower); Abdul Rehman, Fahad Ullah alias Abu Fahad (both shot dead in Hotel Trident-Oberoi); Nasir alias Abu Umar, Babar Imran alias Abu Akash (eliminated at Nariman House) and Ismail Khan alias Abu Ismail (killed near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus).

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