India court convicts Mumbai terror suspect of murder

[JURIST] An Indian court on Monday convicted Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab of murder and waging war against India for his role in the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks 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). Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram welcomed the verdict, 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 in January 2009 to preside over the trial of three suspects detained after the attacks, heard closing arguments in the case in March. In January, Tahiliyani denied 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, 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 in July. Tahiliyani continued the trial ] despite Kasab’s confession, ruling that it was incomplete but should be entered into the record. Kasab claimed that he is not the man  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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