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Homeland Security


Mumbai Terror Strike Gunman Faces Trial in India

By Anjana Pasricha
New Delhi
23 March 2009

The trial has begun in India of the lone gunman captured in last year's terror attacks in Mumbai. India has blamed a Pakistan-based terror group for the attack which killed some 170 people. The suspect told a court Monday that he is from Pakistan, and asked for legal counsel.

A public prosecutor says terrorist suspect Mohammed Ajmal Kasab identified himself to a judge in Mumbai as a resident of Faridkot, in Pakistan's Punjab province.

Kasab was captured on the first day of the terror strikes against multiple targets by 10 gunmen that lasted over three days in Mumbai last November.

Kasab did not appear in court due to security concerns. Instead the trial began Monday via a video link with the prison where he is being held.

Dressed in a dark T-shirt, Kasab greeted the judge with a popular Hindu greeting, "Namaste", and looked relaxed as he answered his questions. Kasab faces several criminal charges, including murder and waging war against the country.

Public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam says Kasab started smiling when the judge asked him if he understood the charges against him. He also asked for legal counsel, and agreed to accept a government appointed advocate.

"Kasab and his co-conspirators informed the court that they are not in a position to engage any lawyer, therefore they would be provided an advocate through legal aid committee," Nikam said.

Two Indians, who are accused of having provided logistical support to the gunmen, also appeared in court via the video conference.

Authorities are building a special bomb proof concrete structure inside the Mumbai jail where Kasab is being held to hold subsequent hearings of the trial.

Indian authorities say the trial cold be concluded in six months.

India has charged 38 people, including Kasab and the two Indians, in connection with the case. Indian authorities, who blame the attack on the Pakistan based Islamic terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, say most of the accused live in Pakistan.

Last month, Pakistani officials acknowledged that the attacks were partly plotted on their soil and filed a case against eight suspects. They also acknowledged that Kasab is a Pakistani.

The terror strike has worsened relations between India and Pakistan with India accusing Islamabad of not doing enough to clamp down on terror groups.

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