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India Files First Formal Cases in Mumbai Terror Attack


Indian authorities have charged the lone surviving gunman in last November's devastating Mumbai terror attacks with murder and waging war against India. Thirty-seven other people - most of them Pakistanis have been charged with planning and abetting the attacks.

After filing a nearly 11,000-page charge sheet in a Mumbai court, an Indian prosecutor said Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Kasab has been charged with 12 crimes. These include murder, attempt to murder, and waging war against India.

Kasab is the only gunman who was captured alive when a group of terrorists attacked multiple targets, including a crowded rail station, luxury hotels and a Jewish Center in Mumbai last November. Nine other terrorists were killed during the attack that killed more than 170 people.

Kasab did not appear in court due to security reasons.

The police have charged 37 other people - 35 Pakistanis and two Indian nationals, with planning and abetting the attack.

Mumbai police commissioner, Rakesh Maria, says all the Pakistani nationals are members of the Islamic terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India says masterminded the attack. The Lashkar-e-Taiba is based in Pakistan.

"These 35 constitute the trainers, people who have assisted in sending of e-mails, people who have assisted in purchase of boats, people at the supposed sites of training and lodging," said Maria.

The evidence presented against Kasab and others includes accounts from 150 witnesses, closed-circuit television footage that shows him and his accomplice walking into a crowded train station and spraying it with bullets, transcripts of phone calls between the attackers and their "handlers" in Pakistan, and what police say is Kasab's confession.

The police commissioner says they are confident they have built up a water-tight case.

"There is very good evidence, you know we are very, very confident of this, the boys have worked very hard, a lot of evidence has been collected, oral and documentary to nail them," he said.

The trial is expected to begin in the coming weeks and conclude in about three to six months. If found guilty, Kasab could face the death penalty.

Pakistan has acknowledged that the attack was partly planned in the country, and launched its own investigation. It has detained several Islamist leaders, including some whom India has named as planners of the attack. The terror attack has raised tensions between India and Pakistan, with India saying Pakistan needs to ensure the guilty are punished, and terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba are crushed.

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