Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Pakistan charges seven people over Mumbai attacks

An Indian soldier aims his rifle outside the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, 29 November
The Taj Mahal Palace hotel was among the targets of the attacks

A court in Pakistan has charged seven people in connection with last year's attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai.

They include the alleged mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

Mr Lakhvi and the other suspects were charged under Pakistan's anti-terrorism act and criminal code. All seven have pleaded not guilty.

A total of 174 people, including nine gunmen, were killed in the attacks in November. Nine other suspects have been charged in their absence.

Some of those are thought to be at large in Pakistan - others overseas.

The attacks led India to suspend peace talks with Pakistan. In July Indian PM Manmohan Singh said talks would not restart until the Mumbai attacks suspects were brought to justice.

The only surviving attacker, Muhammed Ajmal Qasab, is currently facing trial in India.

After initially denying it, Islamabad acknowledged that Mr Qasab is a Pakistani national.

Pakistani security forces here say they are still searching for more suspects, but India has previously also blamed the Pakistani authorities themselves for aiding the Mumbai attackers.

Confession of survivor

These are the first people the Pakistani courts have indicted in connection with the Mumbai attacks.

aleem maqbool
Aleem Maqbool
BBC News, Islamabad

The indictments come amid renewed pressure from India for Pakistan to do much more to speed up the legal process, and convict those responsible for planning the attacks.

Security forces here say they're still searching for more suspects, but India has previously blamed the Pakistani authorities themselves for aiding the Mumbai attackers.

It is almost one year since the incident, and the strain in diplomatic relations is still, very much, being felt.

The charges were read to the seven accused at a special anti-terrorist court set up inside the high security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi where they are being held.

Those in Rawalpindi's anti-terrorism court were Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi , Shahid Jamil Riaz, Hammad Amin Sadiq, Mazhar Iqbal, Jamil Ahmed, Abdul Wajid and Younus Amjad.

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is the head of the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and, according to the prosecution, the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks.

Hamid Amin Sadiq is alleged to be one of the main handlers of the attackers and the operational head, according to Pakistan's Interior Minister Rahman Malik.

All have been charged with being involved in conspiring to carry out the Mumbai attacks.

On Wednesday, Manmohan Singh said he welcomed "every step" by Pakistan to rein in the attackers.

"It is the obligation of the government of Pakistan to do everything in their power to bring these perpetrators" to justice, the Indian premier told reporters during his visit to Washington.

He said, however, that he had not been briefed on the charges of the suspects by the Rawalpindi court.

Prosecutors 'determined'

The charges were framed principally on Mr Qasab's confessional statement.

"The prosecution does not have the evidence to support the charges it has framed," Ilyas Siddiqui, lawyer for Shahid Jamil, told the BBC after the proceedings.

He said his client was innocent and would contest the charges.

The case was adjourned until 5 December.

Prosecutors say they are determined to bring convictions and secure the maximum sentence for those in the dock.

Following the attacks, Pakistan rounded up a number of suspects - among them the Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, who spent some time in custody before being released due to lack of evidence. He has denied any involvement.

Print Sponsor

Sympatico Mumbai commemorates anniversary of attacks - 18 hrs ago
The Sun Mumbai dead remembered - 22 hrs ago
Times Live South Africa India commemorates Mumbai attacks - 25 hrs ago
Philadelphia Inquirer Pakistan charges 7 in Mumbai attacks - 26 hrs ago
Financial TimesIndia remembers Bombay attacks - 27 hrs ago
* Requires registration

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific