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Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, one of the masterminds of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, was informed of Kasab’s hanging by his legal team. Though his reaction is not known, Toral Varia-Deshpande spoke to his lawyer Shahbaz Rajput. Excerpts:
How did you view the news of the execution?
India has followed all the legal procedures, which are almost similar to ours. So in that sense, India is well within its rights to execute any convict, including Kasab. But the way I see it, this is not the execution of Kasab, it is the execution of an importance piece of evidence.
How will Kasab’s hanging have an impact on the ongoing trial in Pakistan?
As a defence lawyer, my case just got stronger. Kasab was a piece of evidence. Ever since the case first came to the court, we have been asking for Kasab’s statement—either by way of his appearance in court in Pakistan or by way of access which India could have given to us. Our primary demand has been that Kasab be personally produced in court so that he can be examined and cross-examined according to Pakistani law. Now that possibility has just been eliminated.
How good is the legal grounding of the case as presented by the prosecution in court?
As a lawyer, and moreso as a defence lawyer, I feel that the case is very weak because the prosecution has not been able to bring strong material evidence on the table. Kasab’s statement was their best bet. The evidence that has been shared by India is also not very strong. If you talk about the commission that had earlier visited India, even that has not been a useful exercise since we were not even allowed to cross-question or examine the witnesses. In Commonwealth countries, any evidence gathered is subject to a judicial scrutiny. Pakistan had accepted that Kasab was a Pakistani citizen. They should have brought him to the court here in Pakistan if they were serious about the case. Simply put, this is a case of no material evidence.
With Kasab gone, will you seek the closure of the case against your client?
We haven’t decided that yet. We have a battery of senior and juniors lawyers; there will be consultation and we will then decide the further course of action.