A fair verdict

NEARLY FOUR years after terrorists went on a killing spree in Mumbai, the lone surviving gunman behind the attack has finally been awarded death penalty by India’s Supreme Court.

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Published: Thu 30 Aug 2012, 8:57 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 11:50 AM

The trial of Ajmal Kasab, the 24-year-old Pakistani national, was a time consuming one. On May 3, 2010, an Indian court convicted him of murder, waging war on India, possessing explosives, and other charges and subsequently awarded him the death penalty. Kasab appealed to the court, saying that he was guilty of planning and executing the heinous carnage, but not involved in waging war against India.

However, the Supreme Court on Wednesday shot down his appeal and upheld its earlier verdict. Kasab is now due to be hanged, although it’s unsure exactly when.

There is little doubt that Kasab was given a fair trial. Despite the fact that he was caught red-handed, and completely changed his story after openly confessing to the crime, he was given a fair chance to defend himself. In fact, KP Pawar, his lawyer, called Kasab’s case the ‘most challenging and biggest’ in his 13-year-old career.

Justice has won the day in India, as Kasab is expected to face the gallows. But the chapter of the gruesome attack on India’s financial hub is not closed yet. In Pakistan, the proceedings for 26/11 case are fraught with problems. Seven people were charged by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan— mainly based on Kasab’s confessional statement— but the case appears to be going nowhere because of poor evidence, delays and lack of Indo-Pak cooperation.

Both parties — the prosecution and defense— are responsible for delaying the proceedings. In July, the hearing of the case was adjourned when a prosecution witness failed to record his statement. And just last Saturday, the case was again adjourned till September 1, because defence lawyers failed to show up at the court.

But perhaps it’s the lack of evidence that’s the most critical shortcoming of the court proceedings. Defence lawyers have maintained that there’s lack of evidence incriminating their clients. And earlier this month, Pakistan’s interior ministry said the evidence provided by India cannot be admitted in the trial court, since defence lawyers of the accused are not permitted to cross-question Indian officials.

There is an urgent need for India and Pakistan to cooperate fully so that the accused on the Pakistan side can also face a speedy trial. Only then will the families of the victims will get a closure.

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