India charges Mumbai gunman with murder

21-year-old Pakistani Mohammed Ajmal Kasab charged with 12 crimes, including waging war against India, will likely face death penalty.

By
February 25, 2009 20:22
3 minute read.
India charges Mumbai gunman with murder

mumbai gunman 248 88 ap. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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India charged the lone surviving gunman from the deadly Mumbai attacks on Wednesday in a 11,000-page document marking the beginning of a legal process that could lead to his execution - and raise tensions with Pakistan. Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani, was charged with 12 crimes, including murder and waging war against India. Kasab has been held by police since he was captured in the early hours of the attacks, but he had not been formally charged. Nine other attackers were killed during the three-day siege in November, which left 164 people dead and targeted luxury hotels, a Jewish center and other sites across the city. Officials vowed to press ahead with the legal proceedings against Kasab. Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said he expected the trial to begin in the coming weeks and conclude in three to six months. Such a swift trial is highly unusual in India where the legal process often drags on for decades. The trial in India's deadliest terror attack, the 1993 Mumbai bombings that killed 257 people, took 14 years to complete. Families of the victims welcomed Nikam's comments. "I hope they hang Kasab," Divya Salaskar, the daughter of one of the police officers killed in the attacks, told the NDTV television station. She called for "a quick trial and a quick result." If convicted on the two most critical charges - murder and waging war against India - the 21-year-old Kasab will likely face the death penalty. The trial could futher inflame tensions with Pakistan as it lays out the role of Pakistani groups in planning and carrying out the assault. India has blamed the attack on Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamist militant group widely believed created by Pakistani intelligence agencies in the 1980s to fight India rule in the divided Kashmir region. The charges do not mention Pakistan's intelligence agency. India has also said that all 10 attackers were from Pakistan. Earlier this month, Pakistani officials acknowledged that the Mumbai attacks were partly plotted on its soil and announced criminal proceedings against eight suspects. The trial could futher inflame tensions with Pakistan as it lays out the role of Pakistani groups in planning and carrying out the assault. India has blamed the attack on Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamist militant group widely believed created by Pakistani intelligence agencies in the 1980s to fight India rule in the divided Kashmir region. The charges do not mention Pakistan's intelligence agency. India has also said that all 10 attackers were from Pakistan. Earlier this month, Pakistani officials acknowledged that the Mumbai attacks were partly plotted on its soil and announced criminal proceedings against eight suspects. The charges against Kasab - detailed in a massive 11,000-page document that took several men to carry - also included Kasab's confession, accounts from more than 2,000 witnesses and closed circuit television footage that shows him and an accomplice walking into Mumbai's crowded Chhatrapati Shivaji train station and spraying it with bullets. Indian law requires that charges be filed against a suspect within 90 days of arrest. Kasab was formally arrested November 28. Kasab has been given a copy of the police charge sheet, Nikam said Wednesday. He also said that at least 35 other suspects in the attacks had "absconded" and authorities would continue investigating. He declined to list their names or nationalities. On Wednesday, Indian police also filed charges against two Indian citizens suspected of aiding the attackers, Nikam said. Prosecutors say one man, Faheem Ansari, had maps of the sites attacked in Mumbai, and police say the other, Sabauddin Ahmed, guided gunmen across India's porous borders. They were jailed last February after an attack on a police station in northern India. Both men were present in court when the charges were filed.

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