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Judge Says CCTV Footage Of Kasab Was Of Very Poor Quality

For the world, the chilling CCTV images of Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Kasab at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus of Mumbai were proof enough of his involvement in 26/11, but  the evidence was not taken into account
PTI May 25, 2010 15:18 IST
For the world, the chilling CCTV images of Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Kasab at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus of Mumbai were proof enough of his involvement in 26/11, but  the evidence was not taken into account by the special court that awarded him the death sentence.

CST's CCTV camera caught Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab and his partner Abu Ismail lurking around. Another camera, outside the Times of India building near the CST, captured Kasab checking cars (to see if any retained its key).

But, according to Mumbai newspaper DNA, principal judge ML Tahaliyani says in his 1,588-page judgment, "I will not… attach much importance to the CCTV footage of which CD was produced in the court because visuals are of very very poor quality."He says the images are not important since many eyewitnesses, particularly press photographers Sebastian D'Souza and Sriram Vernekar, and railway announcer Vishnu Zende, identified Kasab.

Interestingly, when Kasab pleaded guilty on July 20, 2009, he admitted that the images (displayed on a wall of the courtroom via a projector) were correctly recorded.  

But during the screening, the judge remarked that the faces of the accused, particularly Kasab, were not clear. The images from the other CCTV camera were clearer, but the judge remained unconvinced. Neither did he consider the photographs of Kasab taken by D'Souza and Vernekar at CST.

The judge noted that the police did not seize the memory cards of the cameras.  

He said the safe custody of the memory cards to prevent tampering was necessary for the photographs to be taken into consideration. Kasab was sentenced to death on May 6 on charges of waging war against the nation, conspiracy to kill people, murder, and participating in a terrorist act.  

The judgment (a copy of which is with DNA) details the evidence of more than 600 witnesses and the reasons why the court found a clear Pakistan hand in the 26/11 conspiracy — extensive material and forensic evidence collected by investigators.

 While the judge appreciated the evidence against Kasab, he found the evidence against the two accused Indians Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Shaikh "doubtful and unreliable".

The special judge  has come down heavily on the prosecution and investigating agency for submitting "doubtful" and "fragile" evidence against accused Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed that led to their acquittal.
"The evidence of the only prosecution witness is doubtful and unreliable. The investigating agency has failed to provide quality evidence against the duo (Faheem and Sabauddin)," the 1600-page judgement  said.

Witness Nooruddin Shaikh had deposed in court that he and another person, Bharat Thakur, had travelled to Nepal in January 2008 where he saw Ansari hand over maps of Mumbai target locations to Sabauddin at a Kathmandu guesthouse.

According to the prosecution, these maps were used by the Pakistani terrorists, including Ajmal Kasab, and one such map was found in the trouser pocket of slain terrorist Abu Ismail.

"Shaikh has not produced any documentary evidence of his travel and stay at Nepal. The witness has admitted that a record is maintained at Sonavali border with regard to entry of persons into Nepal. He was not able to produce any entry slip. The investigating agency has not made any attempt to collect this evidence and not even tried to verify if Shaikh had visited Nepal," the court observed.

"The prosecution has also not examined Bharat Thakur to corroborate Shaikh's evidence. The prosecution's explanation that Thakur is not traceable is very feeble and does not appeal to the court's reason," the judgement states, adding Thakur was one of the most important witnesses to prove the prosecution's case against Faheem and Sabauddin.

The court accepted the arguments of Faheem's lawyer R B Mokashi that there were no wrinkles or bloodstains on the map recovered from the body of Ismail.

"In my consideration, had the map remained in the trouser pocket of Ismail for such a long time it would have in fact been spoiled to a large extent. This evidence is thus highly doubtful," Judge Tahaliyani observed.

All the evidences submitted by the prosecution to connect Faheem and Sabauddin to the 26/11 terror attack case are found to be "doubtful and tainted", the court remarked.

"There are many loose ends and there is scope of doubting each and every piece of evidence. I do not think such fragile pieces of evidence are sufficient to prove the charges against Faheem and Sabauddin," it states. 

"The main conspirators had used best available technology like VOIP and Google Earth. Therefore this rustic sketch map allegedly prepared by Faheem does not fit in the scheme of the conspirators," Judge Tahaliyani observed.