Lawyers' group refuses to defend Mumbai suspects

A prominent group of Indian lawyers has ordered its members not to defend the lone surviving gunman or any other suspects in last month’s terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

A prominent group of Indian lawyers has ordered its members not to defend the lone surviving gunman or any other suspects in last month’s terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

The president of the Mumbai Metropolitan Magistrate Court’s Bar Association said the group passed a resolution over the weekend.

The resolution admonishes the group’s 1,000 members against representing any criminal defendants in cases stemming from the November 26-29 attack.

Association President Rohini Wagh said the gunman was “not the same as other criminals arrested. His main aim was an attack on our city, our country”.

Mohammed Ajmal Kasab was one of 10 suspected Muslim militants who staged attacks on Mumbai that left 171 people dead and 294 wounded.

Kasab, 21, a reputed member of banned Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, was captured on security camera footage unloading an assault rifle on dozens of commuters at the city’s crowded train station.

Wagh said she hadn’t received any objections to the resolution and would be “very disheartened” should anyone choose to represent Kasab, though doing so wouldn’t bring any penalties from the association.

“There is no doubt about what he did,” she said. “The whole world was watching it for 60 hours.”

The decision drew backing from some of India’s top defence lawyers.

“His offense is indescribable,” said Majid Memon, a well-known criminal lawyer in Mumbai. “If I have an iota of respect for society then I would say the man does not deserve a defence.”

But Colin Gonsalves, a human rights attorney, called the action “wrong, both legally and morally”.

“They think they are being ultrapatriotic. But it is not for us to decide if he is guilty,” Gonsalves said. “If the evidence against him is as strong as it is then he will be convicted and hung.”

It’s not the first time lawyers in India have refused to represent terror suspects.

When a series of bombs targeted courts in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in 2005 and 2007, the local bar association refused to take the suspects’ cases. A Muslim lawyer who chose to appear as their defence was assaulted on his way to court.

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