Mumbai attack suspect goes on trial

Mohammed Ajmal "Kasab" faces death penalty if convicted of November assault charges.

    The Taj hotel was among several landmarks  in Mumbai targeted in the November attack [AFP]

    Kasab, the nine dead attackers and 35 other suspected Lashkar members wanted over the attacks, are charged with carrying out a "heinous criminal conspiracy" against the city and people of Mumbai and India.

    "This was with the express intention to destabilise India, wage war against the country, terrorise its citizens, create financial loss and issue a warning to other countries," the charge sheet read.

    Two Indian nationals, Fahim Ansari, 35, and Sabauddin Ahmed, 24, are also on trial on charges of providing the group with logistical support before the attacks.

    Single-judge bench

    The trial is taking place before a single judge without a jury because of security fears.

    All pre-trial hearings have been held either behind closed doors or via video link.

    The courtroom at Mumbai's Arthur Road jail was last used to try suspects over the deadly 1993 bomb blasts in the city. It has been reinforced and a bomb-proof tunnel has reportedly been built from Iman's cell after he received death threats.

    Traffic will be banned from around the prison for the duration of the trial, which is estimated to last up to six months with testimonies from as many as 2,000 witnesses.

    Anjali Waghmare, Kasab's state-appointed lawyer, was criticised for accepting the case and attacked by angry Indians.

    She has been given the highest level of police protection.

    'Conclusive' links

    Prosecutors say they have evidence that "undoubtedly and conclusively" links the attacks to Pakistan, including mobile and satellite phone communication between the armed men and their [Lashkar] "handlers".

    Kasab's DNA and fingerprints were found on items retrieved from the hijacked Indian fishing trawler the men used to get to the Mumbai coast, it is alleged.

    There is CCTV and other footage allegedly of him at Mumbai's main railway station, where more than 50 people were killed when two attackers opened fire with AK-47 assault rifles and threw grenades.

    Thirty witnesses also picked him out in identification parades, the charge sheet said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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