Kasab over 20, doctors tell court trying Mumbai attacker (Lead)

Mumbai, April 28 (Inditop) Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive after the 26/11 attack on Mumbai, is over 20, according to a medical report submitted here Tuesday before the Special Court hearing the terror attacks trial. The defence counsel however said the report had a margin of error.

Special Judge M.L. Tahilyani, who had ordered the medical test last Friday to determine Kasab’s age, will give his ruling on the matter Wednesday, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters after Tuesday’s hearing.

The order to carry out the medical test had come after Kasab claimed in court that he was below 18 and should be tried in a court meant for juveniles.

The medical report submitted in court Tuesday is based on two separate tests conducted at Mumbai’s Sir J.J. Hospital by a team of four doctors headed by Nanda Kumar. Kasab underwent a dental and bone test to determine his age.

The tests have revealed that Kasab was not a minor – as claimed earlier through his lawyer S.G. Abbas Kazmi – at the time of the Nov 26, 2008 attacks.

Reacting to the medical report, Kazmi told reporters after Tuesday’s hearing at the special court set up within Arthur Road jail that the “margin of error” in the report was “yet to be verified”.

“In such medical reports, there is a certain margin of error, which I’ll try to prove Wednesday by presenting two medical experts before the judge.”

Kazmi said: “As per the report, Kasab is 20 years old today. So at the time of 26/11, he was 19 and a half years old. We have to verify what is the margin of error in such reports, check out similar precedents and court rulings.”

He reiterated that after examining the witnesses, if Kasab is found to have been a minor at the time of the Mumbai terror attacks, then “this Special Court will have no jurisdiction to try the matter”.

Apart from the medical test, two witnesses testified in court in the matter Tuesday. Swati Sathe, superintendent of the Arthur Road central jail where Kasab is being kept, told the judge that at the time of his admission, Kasab had told her he was 21 years old.

The doctor at Mumbai’s Nair hospital who had treated Kasab on Nov 27 last year also told the court that at that time, Kasab had said he was 21 years old. The doctor was identified only as Raghavan.

Kazmi claimed he had “demolished the arguments” of the two witnesses during cross-examination.

In view of the confusion created by Kasab’s claims, Nikam had moved an application last week seeking directions from Special Judge Tahilyani to medically verify the age of the accused.

Accepting the application, the judge had ordered that the medical report should be submitted Tuesday. Nikam had told the court Kasab had given his age as 21 on three different occasions – once to the police and jail authorities, once to the doctor who examined him and again to the magistrate before whom he recorded his confession statement.

Moreover, Nikam said, the prosecution had other evidence to prove that Kasab was not a minor. Terming the matter as a ‘delay tactic’, he had sought the court’s directions on settling Kasab’s age issue finally since the prosecution wanted to frame charges against Kasab.