Man convicted over Mumbai attacks

Tuesday 04 May 2010 12.37
Mumbai - Co-ordinated attacks in 2008 left 166 dead
Mumbai - Co-ordinated attacks in 2008 left 166 dead

A Pakistani national has been convicted in an Indian court over his role in the deadly Mumbai attacks.

The lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks was convicted of murder and waging war against India after a 60-hour siege that left 166 people dead.

Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, 22, was found guilty on the most serious charges over the assault that saw 10 gunmen attack three luxury hotels, a restaurant, a Jewish centre and the main CST train station.

'You have been found guilty of waging war against India, and killing people at CST, killing government officials and abetting the other nine terrorists,' judge ML Tahaliyani said as he delivered his verdict.

Kasab was convicted on most of the 86 charges against him and faces the death penalty. He stood impassively in the dock in the special prison court as the verdict was announced.

Two Indian nationals accused of providing logistical support to the gunmen by supplying them with handwritten maps of the city were found not guilty.

The widely-expected judgment came after the prosecution said there was 'overwhelming' evidence against Kasab, including DNA and fingerprints, security camera footage and photographs showing him with a powerful AK-47 assault rifle.

Kasab was captured in a photograph walking through Mumbai's train station wearing a backpack and carrying an AK-47 in one of the defining images of the attacks.

The former labourer initially denied the charges, then pleaded guilty, before reverting to his original stance and claiming that he was set up by the police and had been in Mumbai only to watch films.

Observers expect the judge to hand down the maximum death sentence when a sentence is announced tomorrow, but a lengthy, possibly open-ended, appeal through the Indian courts is likely.

The government officially supports capital punishment for what the Supreme Court in New Delhi has called the 'rarest of rare' cases but no execution has been carried out since 2004, and only two since 1998.

In his first confession, Kasab admitted to being one of two gunmen who threw grenades and opened fire at unsuspecting rush-hour commuters at Mumbai's main railway station.

The railway assault, which killed 52 and wounded more than 100, was the bloodiest episode in the siege, blamed by India on Pakistan-based Islamist extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba and elements in the Pakistani military.

Kasab later retracted the confession, saying it was made under police pressure and that he was a victim of mistaken identity. He had earlier alleged torture while in police custody.

He and his accomplice also gunned down a number of senior police officers as they fled the station while a home-made bomb they placed in a taxi that took them to the station later exploded, killing the driver and his passenger.

Mr Kasab, arrested in a stolen car after a shoot-out at a police roadblock, was the only suspected gunman caught alive. The others were killed by Indian security forces.

They were secretly buried earlier this year after a long-running row about how to dispose of the bodies.

Just over a week ago the worst-damaged hotel, The Oberoi, welcomed back guests for the first time since the attacks.