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Ranas acquittal will not affect Kasab case: Nikam

Mumbai: The verdict of a US court holding Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana not guilty for the Mumbai terror attacks would not effect the legal proceedings against terrorist Ajmal Kasab and also the charge against LeT that they had masterminded the strikes, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said here on Friday.

"However, it pains me to hear how Rana was exonerated from criminal conspiracy of 26/11 terror attack particularly when co-accused David Headley`s evidence about complicity of both of them in the conspiracy has been accepted by the court," Nikam told PTI while reacting to the verdict.

Rana was acquitted by a Chicago court on the charges of plotting the Mumbai attacks but was found guilty of supporting LeT and planning a strike in Denmark.

The law of conspiracy in USA, UK, India and Pakistan is very clear to the effect that once a conspiracy is hatched and participants have been involved in that, then it is not necessary that conspirators should do overt acts as conspiracy itself is a punishable offence, said Nikam, who was prosecutor in the Mumbai court which conducted the 26/11 trial.

"When the Chicago Court accepted Headley`s evidence that he and Rana had hatched a criminal conspiracy with LeT, then the acquittal of Rana from the 26/11 terror attacks is itself contradictory," Nikam said.

Once the Chicago court accepted the theory of conspiracy about the involvement of Rana and Headley in plotting various terrorist acts then the court ought to have held Rana guilty of 26/11 terror attacks, Nikam said.

However, this judgement is significant for the judicial finding of the American court that Headley was a conspirator of the 26/11 terror attacks. This finding can be used in the 26/11 attack trial in Pakistan, Nikam said.

"The Pakistani authorities should now implead Headley as a wanted accused and, after tendering pardon to him, record his evidence through video conference for punishing the participants of 26/11 terror attacks against whom the trial is pending in the neighbouring country," Nikam said.

Not just this, Pakistani authorities can also rely on Headley`s version and book other persons who were named by Headley in the 26/11 criminal conspiracy if that country wants to fight terrorism, Nikam opined.

Pakistan should not merely blame India for not furnishing evidence against the perpetrators of 26/11 terror attacks, Nikam said.

The Judgement of the Chicago court is contradictory because on one hand it has held Rana liable for aiding LeT in facilitating the 26/11 terror attacks and on the other it has exonerated Rana from the charges of plotting the Mumbai strikes, Nikam said.

The Bombay High Court had in February this year upheld the trial court`s verdict in holding Ajmal Kasab guilty of participating in the 26/11 terror attacks. He is now awaiting the Supreme Court`s permission to file an appeal against the High Court judgement.

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