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India Charges Suspect in Mumbai Attacks

BY Admin  February 25, 2009 at 11:20 AM EDT

Special prosecutor holds charge sheet; AP photo

Pakistani Mohammed Ajmal Kasab has been held by the police
since he was captured in the early hours of the three-day attacks, but had not
been formally charged.

Nine other attackers were killed during the 60-hour rampage
across two five-star hotels, a Jewish center and a crowded train station in
India’s financial hub, leaving more than 160 people dead.

Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters that
the 11,000-page charge sheet names 37 other people, including two Indians and
two Pakistani soldiers, with planning and abetting the attacks that killed more
than 160 people and revived tensions between nuclear-armed rivals India and
Pakistan.

“The charge sheet has 35 wanted (accused) and three
accused,” Nikam said, waving a copy of the charge sheet, according to news
agencies. He said he would try to wind up the trial in 3-6 months.

Rakesh Maria, the chief Indian investigator in the case,
said two Pakistan army officials accused of training the gunmen were among
those charged, but he did not give their names or rank.

Police have said that their evidence includes transcripts of
phone calls between the attackers and their “handlers” in Pakistan,
what police say is Kasab’s confession and closed-circuit television footage
that shows him and his 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 Nov. 28. He has been
given a copy of the police charge sheet, Nikam said.

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. Those charges also mean there is almost no chance Kasab would be
handed over to Pakistan for trial.

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.

India has also said that all 10 attackers were from
Pakistan.

Those charged as key planners of the attacks included Hafiz
Mohammad Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other senior Lashkar members
Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah.

Nikam said the two arrested Indians — Fahim Ansari and
Sabauddin — who are Lashkar members accused of scouting Mumbai landmarks
before the attacks.

The charge sheet contains accounts of more than 2,200
witnesses as well as other evidence provided by the U.S. Federal Bureau of
Investigation, which helped with the probe.

India has said the Pakistani militants must have been
supported by Pakistani security agencies.

Pakistan has acknowledged that the deadly raid had been
launched and partly planned from its soil. It is conducting its own
investigation and has detained several Islamist leaders, including some whom
India has named as planners of the attack.

India has handed Pakistan data from satellite phones used by
the attackers and Kasab’s confession.

India mounted a diplomatic offensive after the attacks,
saying Pakistan was not doing enough to bring the perpetrators to justice or
dismantle what it said were militant camps there.

The next hearing of the case is on March 9.