Pakistani terrorist Kasab is an adult, rules court (Lead)

May 2nd, 2009 - 8:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, May 2 (IANS) Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab is a major aged at least 21 years, according to a special court’s ruling Saturday.
Special Judge M.L. Tahilyani, hearing the Mumbai terror attacks trial, set at rest all speculation over Kasab’s age, who had claimed that he was a minor and should be tried in a juvenile court.

The special court based its decision on the evidence of witnesses before whom Kasab had earlier given his age as 21.

“Based on all the evidences put before it, the examination of the two witnesses and other things, the special court has ruled that the accused is not a juvenile, he is aged 21. It has accordingly disposed of the prosecution application in the matter,” Kasab’s lawyer S.G. Abbas Kazmi told the media shortly after the hearing.

The judge also relied on the bone and dental tests carried out on Kasab as per his order April 24 and the opinions given by medical experts in the court last week.

Kasab, whose birth date is given as Sep 13, 1987, was 21 years old at the time of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

The accused had given his age as 21 to the doctor who first examined and treated him after his arrest Nov 27 at the Arthur Road Central Jail authorities where he is lodged and also to the magistrate before whom he had recorded his confessional statement.

Earlier, Judge Tahilyani also rejected a plea by Kasab seeking independent expert opinion on the medical tests carried out on him earlier this week.

Kazmi said the accused also wanted to verify whether his signature was taken on the 16 x-ray plates which were submitted to the court.

“This was mainly to ensure that the x-ray plates belonged to Kasab and not anybody else,” Kazmi explained.

Kasab had demanded access to the x-ray plates and medical reports which put his age at between 20-25 years, following an examination ordered by the court April 24.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, objecting to the accused’s plea, argued that this was another attempt to delay the trial.

“Kasab has not only acquired training in handling weapons like AK-47 and carrying out terrorist attacks, now he has acquired training in delaying the trial,” Nikam remarked.

Nikam termed the court’s ruling as “winning the first major battle against terrorist Kasab”, and observed that now the matter had been disposed of.

For the first time since the trial started last month, Kasab shed his jeans and tee-shirt and attended the proceedings in a white kurta-pyjama.

With today’s much-anticipated ruling, the decks have been cleared for the conduct of the Mumbai terror attacks trial.

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