India files charges against Mumbai terrorist suspects

New Delhi - Indian police on Wednesday filed charges against the lone surviving gunman in the Mumbai terrorist attack of November, paving the way for a trial.

The 11,280-page charge sheet submitted in a Mumbai court named 47 people, all but two of them Pakistani nationals, Mumbai joint commissioner of police Rakesh Maria said at a press briefing.

He said investigations were still going on.

Three of the accused - Ajmal Amir Kasab, the surviving gunman and two Indian nationals - had been arrested.

Nine other gunmen who were part of the November terrorist attack on Mumbai were dead and another 35 people, all suspected to be Pakistani nationals, were wanted, Maria said.

Kasab has been charged under several sections of the Indian Penal Code including "murder and waging war" against India. He also faces charges under the Foreigners Act, the Passport Act and several other laws.

The 35 Pakistanis mentioned in the charge sheet were operatives of the Pakistan-based militant group the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) or its supporters, Maria said.

Indian investigators believe the LET planned and carried out the attack on India's financial capital in November in which 10 gunmen opened indiscriminate fire and lobbed grenades at several landmark locations in the city.

They held hostages in two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre for three days. More than 170 people were killed and over 300 people injured in the attack.

Maria said a single charge sheet had been filed encompassing all the incidents. A total of 2202 witnesses had been identified.

"We will follow the due process of law. Summons and warrants will be issued. Red corner alerts for the accused who are absconding," Maria said.

The 35 names include that of Pakistan-based LET leaders Hafeez Sayyid, Fahim Ansari, Zaki-ur rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah.

These men were located in Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Maria said.

"The two Indians - Faheem and Sahabuddin - had provided maps and other details without which they would not have been able to reach their targets," Maria said.

Maria said the investigations had so far not pinpointed any Pakistani state agency like the Inter-Services Intelligence or the military.

A couple of names with military designations had been identified and named in the charge sheet but it was not clear whether they were LET designations or Pakistani military or retired personnel, Maria said.

The charge sheet was prepared on the basis of forensic, documentary and oral evidence, Maria said. It included video footage, GPS details from phones carried by the terrorists and satellite phone records.

"We are very, very confident that we will get a conviction in this case," Maria said.

The formal filing of charges paves the way for Kasab's trial and he could face the death penalty if found guilty.

Arrested on November 28, Kasab has been kept under heavy security cover in a Mumbai jail. He was given a copy of the charge sheet.

"The trial will be conducted in the Z-security special court to be presided over by special judge ML Tahilyani inside the Arthur Road Jail precincts," public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said.

"Special security arrangements are being made there. We are making efforts to complete the trial within the next three to six months," he added.

Under Indian law, charges have to be filed in a court within 90 days of a person's detention. The next hearing has been scheduled for March 19. dpa


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