Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Monday, 23 March 2009

Trial starts for Mumbai suspect

Mumbai gunman, identified as Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab
Qasab is alleged to have opened fire on commuters

The sole known surviving suspect from last year's Mumbai attacks has appeared on a video link from a high security jail at the start of his trial.

Charges against Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab include murder and "waging war" against India.

The defendant confirmed that he was from Pakistan's Punjab province and asked for a lawyer. The trial was adjourned until 30 March.

More than 170 people died in November's attacks on India's financial capital.

Nine gunmen were killed.

India accused Pakistan-based militants from the banned group Lashkar-e-Taiba of carrying out the attacks. Pakistan has admitted they were partly planned on its soil.

Two alleged Indian Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives, Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, also face trial in the case and appeared before the court by video link.

They are accused of scouting for the attacks.

Short replies

Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab, 21, was arrested on the first day of the attacks and has been in Indian custody ever since.

Dressed in a dark t-shirt and sporting a beard, he appeared relaxed in his video appearance.

Firing at CST train station
Firing inside and outside Cama Hospital
Hijacking of Skoda vehicle
Murder of MV Kuber boatman
Firing at Girgaum Chowpatty beach

He gave short replies to questions asked by judge ML Tahilyani.

"You will need a lawyer. Do you have one? We can provide you a lawyer on government expense, do you accept?" the judge asked him.

"Yes sir," the defendant replied.

The next day of the trial will be on 30 March, when legal representation will be discussed.

The charge sheet relating to November's attacks runs to more than 11,000 pages.

The defendant has been charged under various acts, including murder, attempted murder and damaging public property.

He was not in court for security reasons.

His trial is to be held in Mumbai's maximum-security Arthur Road jail, though it has not started there because the security infrastructure is not yet ready.

He could face the death penalty if found guilty.

Poor relations

Officials say the charge sheet against Mr Qasab and other accused contains details of evidence pertaining to how the conspiracy was hatched, how the gunmen entered Mumbai and the training in Pakistan.

Mumbai police say they are confident of their case because of the weight of evidence.

On Monday, the court gave details of a previously announced media gag, saying it covered video and CCTV footage from inside hotels that were targeted and intercepted phone conversations between attackers and their alleged handlers in Pakistan.

The ruling came after a private Indian news channel ran hours of interceptions and footage. The court said the gag was subject to modification.

Relations between India and Pakistan have worsened considerably since the November attacks.

As well as accusing Lashkar-e-Taiba of being behind them, India suggested that "state actors" in Pakistan were also involved.

Delhi has submitted a list of suspects to Pakistan and demanded they be handed over. Both Pakistan and Lashkar have denied involvement.

However, Pakistan's investigation last month found that at least nine suspected attackers had sailed from Karachi to Mumbai in three boats in November.

Pakistan says it has indicted eight people, six of whom have already been arrested, and that any trials will take place on its soil.

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Mumbai attacks suspect is charged
25 Feb 09 |  South Asia

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