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India court finds Mumbai attack accused guilty

Mumbai, May 3, 2010

An Indian court on Monday found a Pakistani man guilty of involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the first verdict delivered in the case.

The court found Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman from the Mumbai attacks, guilty of charges including waging war on India and murder. Sentencing will be on Tuesday and he could now face the gallows.

Two Indian nationals accused of being members of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and of conducting reconnaissance in Mumbai before the attack, were aquitted of all charges, according to the court. 

Kasab was caught on tape strolling through Mumbai's main train station carrying an AK-47 rifle and a knapsack on his back, prosecutors say. Nearly 60 people were gunned down in the crowded station.

Kasab, wounded by police and arrested on the first night of the attacks, initially admitted his role and then said he had been framed.

At least 166 people, including foreigners and some of India's wealthy business elite, were killed by 10 Pakistani gunmen in a three-day rampage through some of Mumbai's best known landmarks including two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre.
   

The Mumbai attack prompted New Delhi to break off peace talks with Pakistan, saying Islamabad must first act against militants operating from its soil, including the LeT, of which Kasab is accused of being a member.

India had charged 38 people in connection with the attack, most of them living in Pakistan. The verdict comes days after the prime ministers of India and Pakistan held talks in Bhutan and asked their officials to take steps to normalise relations, signalling a thaw in ties that analysts say should not be affected by Monday's verdict.

The case against Ansari and Shaikh revolved around Kasab's confession to a magistrate in February 2009. Kasab had said that the duo supplied maps of Mumbai to LeT bosses. Thus, they gave logistical support to carry out the attack.

In his defence, Kasab maintained that he was an innocent Pakistani who was picked up several days prior to the attack. He has insisted that the terrorist caught on CCTV is not him but a lookalike. He also rubbished all witness testimonies as tutored and given at the behest of police officials.

Both Ansari and Shaikh denied all wrongdoing. Their main argument was why would the LeT rely upon crude maps allegedly supplied by them when far more sophisticated versions were easily available on the internet.




Tags: Pakistan | Mumbai | attack | Kasab | Suspect |

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