(AFP) – May 6, 2009
MUMBAI (AFP) — A Pakistani man on trial in India over last year's Mumbai attacks Wednesday pleaded not guilty to all charges, denying his part in "waging war" against the country and slaughtering scores of people.
Mohammed Ajmal Kasab looked relaxed as he stood in the dock at a special prison court in the city and replied in Hindi to the 86-count indictment.
"It is all wrong," he said. "I do not accept the charges."
The 21-year-old is accused of being part of a 10-member Islamist militant commando group that stormed India's financial and entertainment capital last November, killing 166 and wounding over 300 in a three-day orgy of violence.
As well as "waging war against India," which carries the death penalty, he is charged with destabilising the government, murder, kidnap, robbery, "causing terror" and smuggling illegal arms and high explosives.
Specifically, he and an accomplice -- who was killed by police -- are accused of killing 72 people with AK-47 rifles and grenades in and around the city's main railway station.
In formal court documents, Kasab gave his full name as Mohammed Ajmal Mohammed Amir Kasab, his age, and stated he was a labourer from Faridkot in Pakistani Punjab.
He signed the papers, saying that he understood the accusations against him.
Court officials recorded him as saying "I do not plead guilty" after the charges, which run to 50 pages, were read out in court by judge M.L. Tahiliyani.
Two Indian men are also on trial, accused of providing logistical support for the gunmen, whom India claims were trained, equipped and financed by the Pakistan-based militant group Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed face the same charges and also pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution claims that Kasab, Ansari and Ahmed were part of a "heinous criminal conspiracy" committed against the city and people of Mumbai and India with the help of 35 suspected LeT "terrorists" in Pakistan.
LeT denies any involvement.
On Tuesday a court in Pakistan extended the house arrest of two members of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity that is accused of being a front for the LeT.
One of the men, Dawa chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed is one of the 35 "wanted terrorists" identified by India as having aided and abetted the Mumbai attacks.
Saeed, who founded the LeT, was placed under house arrest in December when Pakistani police closed the group's countrywide offices under international pressure.
Indian prosecutors say they have evidence that "undoubtedly and conclusively" links the attacks to Pakistan, including mobile and satellite phone communication between the gunmen and their LeT "handlers."
DNA, fingerprints, CCTV and eyewitness identification is also available, they have said.
Kasab, said by the prosecution to be the product of a "terrorist culture" in Pakistan, was arrested as he tried to flee the railway station, as other gunmen attacked a popular tourist restaurant, two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre.
The trial was adjourned until Thursday, when special prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam will go through the sequence of events as they unfolded on November 26.
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