Mumbai gunman tells court that he is from Pakistan

Gunman charged with murder in last year's terror attacks stands trial via video link from prison.

Chabad House raid Mumbai  (photo credit: AP)
Chabad House raid Mumbai
(photo credit: AP)
The only gunman charged in last year's terror attacks in Mumbai told an Indian court Monday, the first day of court proceedings, that he would agree to a government-provided lawyer and also repeated that he was a Pakistani national. Mohammed Ajmal Kasab - captured during the attacks and jailed ever since - addressed the court via video link from prison because of concerns about his security. This was his second such appearance. Special judge M.L. Tahiliyani asked Kasab to identify himself and asked him where he was from. Kasab replied that he was from Faridkot, in Pakistan's Punjab province. Tahiliyani asked Kasab if he could see him clearly through the video link and then introduced himself as the judge heading his trial. Kasab, who looked relaxed and was dressed in a gray tunic and loose pants, said, "Namaste," a popular Hindu greeting. Kasab told the court that he had no legal counsel so far and when Tahiliyani asked if he would like the court to provide him with a lawyer, he said, "do whatever you think is right." Kasab, 21, was charged last month with 12 criminal counts, including murder and waging war against India and could face the death penalty if convicted. 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. 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 Indian rule in the divided Kashmir region. Last month, Pakistani officials acknowledged that the attacks were partly plotted on their soil and announced criminal proceedings against eight suspects. They also acknowledged that Kasab is a Pakistani national. The trial was supposed to be conducted by a special court in Mumbai's Arthur Road jail, where Kasab is housed. On Monday, however, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam also asked the court to delay the trial until April 13 because the security infrastructure in the prison was not ready. The court will reconvene March 30 to decide whether the delay should be allowed, Nikam told reporters. Nikam had said last month that he expected the trial to conclude within six months - unusually swift for India, where the legal process can drag on for decades. The trial in India's deadliest terror attack, the 1993 Mumbai bombings that killed 257 people, took 14 years to complete.