Thursday, June 20, 2013

Four 26/11 witnesses ready for Pak grilling

CST after the attack on 26/11

Go-Ahead Given For 2nd Judicial Commission


Mateen Hafeez, Sumitra Deb Roy & Rebecca Samervel TNN

Mumbai: Expectations of the 26/11 attacks trial in Pakistan moving forward grew in the city after Delhi forwarded aBombay high court order allowing a Pakistani judicial commission to cross-examine four witnesses. 

    India has also sent certified copies of statements of all the four witnesses — investigating officer Ramesh Mahale, magistrate R V Sawant Waghule, doctors Shailesh Mohite and Ganesh Nithurkar — to Islamabad. Pakistan will produce these documents before its anti-terror court in Rawalpindi and decide on the date of visit of its judicial commission.

Mahale had filed the chargesheet in the terror case, Waghule recorded the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab and the doctors had conducted autopsies of the nine other terrorists.
An earlier judicial commission from Pakistan had recorded the sta
tements of the witnesses in March last year. The commission, including five advocates representing the seven persons charged with conspiracy in the 26/11 attack on Mumbai, two Pakistani public prosecutors and a court officer, was not allowed to crossexamine the witnesses.
    The Rawalpindi court had refused to accept the statements on the grounds that a trial is incomplete without cross-examination by defence.
    “A few months ago, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam visited Pakistan and had adiscussion with his Pakistani counterparts on this issue,” said Mahale, who quit the police force voluntarily on May 23 this year.
    Mahale played a key role in the investigations, having interrogated Kasab and his handler Abu Jundal alias Zabihuddin Ansari. He filed the chargesheet in the special court, along with statements of over 400 witnesses, including victims from abroad.  “I have done my job and am ready for cross-examination. Let the panel come and we will tell about our investigation,” said Mahale.

    Magistrate Waghule had recorded Kasab’s confession on February 21, 2009, and appeared before the first Pakistani judicial commission. In September 2009, she had told the special trial court that Kasab had “confessed voluntarily” to his crime. 

    Dr Mohite, head of forensic medicine at Nair Hospital, has preserved all his notes on the 22 autopsies at the hospital after the 26/11 attack. “I had prepared well for the Pakistan judicial commission earlier, and I will be ready this
time too,” he said. 

    Forensic experts have to certify whether the bullets recovered from the victims and those fired by the terrorists are the same. “Ascertaining firearm injuries in such cases becomes a significant piece of evidence, and we had managed to conclude that. We were asked about the nature of injuries and cause of deaths during the last deposition before the commission,” said Dr Nithurkar, now an assistant professor at the forensic department of J J Hospital.
RAMESH PADMANABH MAHALE Crime branch unit incharge/ senior police inspector in 2008
Current Status | Took voluntary retirement on May 23, 2013
Role in the Probe | He interrogated Ajmal Kasab, took statements of witnesses, the injured and others and filed the chargesheet in the special court. He also deposed before the court. He accompanied Kasab from Arthur Road jail to Pune’s Yerawada prison, where the terrorist was hanged on November 21, 2012
R V SAWANT WAGHULE Additional chief metropolitan magistrate who recorded Kasab’s confessional statement on February 21, 2009
Current status | Ad-hoc district judge in Ahmednagar
Role in the Probe | In September 2009, she told the
special trial court that Kasab had “confessed voluntarily” to his crimes, had shown no remorse and said he wanted others to “draw inspiration” from his acts. Kasab had retracted his confession. She appeared before the earlier Pakistani judicial commission
DR SHAILESH MOHITE Professor, head of forensic medicine dept, B Y Nair Hospital
Role in Probe | Led a team of five experts who carried out autopsies on 22 bodies. Mohite himself conducted the post-mortem of Abu Ismail, allegedly the group leader, who had attacked CST
DR GANESH NITHURKAR Lecturer, forensic medicine dept, JJ Hospital
Current status | Asst professor
Role in Probe | Performed round-the-clock autopsies with nine others on 120 bodies over four days, including eight terrorists

TRIAL STATUS IN PAKISTAN Pakistan has put seven persons on trial for plotting the Mumbai attacks. The trial has made little progress since the first judicial commission’s report was rejected because cross-examination of witnesses was not allowed and after leading public prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfikar was shot dead on May 3 this year

Ajmal Kasab was hanged to death on November 21, 2012*

The Times of India, June 20, 2013

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