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Monday, May 03, 2010

India court convicts Mumbai terror suspect of murder
Jaclyn Belczyk at 9:05 AM ET

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[JURIST] An Indian court on Monday convicted Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab [NDTV profile] of murder and waging war against India for his role in the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] that killed 166. Kasab, a Pakistani native, was convicted on all 86 charges against him. Prosecutors had accused Kasab of being one of the gunmen photographed during the attacks, which were allegedly coordinated by Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) [CFR backgrounder]. Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram welcomed the verdict [AP report], saying it sends a message to Pakistan about supporting terrorism in India. Two Indian alleged accomplices were acquitted on all charges of helping to plan the attacks. Sentencing is expected Tuesday, and Kasab could face the death penalty.

Judge ML Tahiliyani, specially appointed [PTI report] in January 2009 to preside over the trial of three suspects detained after the attacks, heard closing arguments [JURIST report] in the case in March. In January, Tahiliyani denied [JURIST report] Kasab's request for an international trial. Kasab claimed that he would not receive a fair trial in India. In December, Kasab withdrew his confession [JURIST report], claiming he was tortured and framed by police. Kasab originally pleaded not guilty last year, but interrupted his trial to confess and change his plea to guilty [JURIST reports] in July. Tahiliyani continued the trial [JURIST report] despite Kasab's confession, ruling that it was incomplete but should be entered into the record. Kasab claimed that he is not the man [Times of India report] seen in a photograph holding an assault rifle in the train station. Kasab testified that he had been arrested by police days before the attacks for being Pakistani and that police shot him to make it look like he had been injured during the attacks.

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