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Homeland Security

Mumbai gunman gets new lawyer, trial to resume Friday

RIA Novosti

16/04/2009 18:00 NEW DELHI, April 16 (RIA Novosti) - A new lawyer has been found for the only gunman captured alive during last November's terrorist attack in Mumbai, and the trial will resume on Friday, Indian media reported on Thursday.

A member of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist organization, 21-year-old Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, is being tried for involvement in an attack carried out by 10 terrorists, in which 166 were killed people over three days.

The trial began on Wednesday amid unprecedented security in Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail. At the start of the hearing, the judge dismissed defense lawyer Anjali Waghmare, who was also representing the interests of one of the witnesses in a compensation claim case. She was dismissed due to a possible conflict of interests.

Kasab asked to be represented by a Pakistani lawyer. Although foreign nationals are not generally allowed to represent clients in India, Kasab's request was forwarded to Pakistan via diplomatic channels. Islamabad, however, left the appeal unanswered.

"The government has given a lawyer as there was no response from Pakistan," the NDTV TV channel quoted Judge M L Tahiliyani as saying.

"The Judge has decided to have me as the lawyer and I feel that it is for the honour of our nation that Kasab should have a lawyer to defend him," the Indian Express quoted lawyer Abbas Kazmi, who agreed to defend Kasab, as saying.

Police say Kasab and his partners shot dead 58 people during an assault on Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the city's main train station. A total of 12 charges have been filed against him, including murder and waging war against India. Kasab, who was dubbed "the baby-faced killer," faces death by hanging if found guilty.

Kazmi told journalists that his client had no understanding of how grave the charges were.

Sources in the detention center where Kasab is being held say he feels no remorse, and sometimes is heard saying that he would soon attain martyrdom like his nine accomplices. The defendant smiled in court as the arguments made by both defense and prosecution.

The lawyer requested to provide him with bodyguards, fearing a possible attack. Last December a number of lawyers who seemed willing to take up the case faced fierce protests and threats from the extremist rightwing party Shiv Sena (Army of Shiva).

"Surely, I will ask for police protection," he said.

The second defense lawyer, K P Pawar, who has been kept in the trial, told the Times of India that he travelled to Wednesday's court session with virtually no protection, in a crowded local train during the rush hour.

"I am not even asking for dozens of gun-toting men, but at least give me basic protection. The police admit that I am under threat, but cannot even arrange for a vehicle to take me to court. Are they waiting for something to happen to me?" the newspaper quoted him as saying.

On Friday, the trial will also resume for two Indian residents, Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Mohammed, who are accused of conducting reconnaissance for the perpetrators of the terrorist attack. A total of 37 people, including 35 Pakistanis, have been charged in connection with the case.


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