First charges filed in 26/11 Mumbai attacks (Second Lead)

February 25th, 2009 - 9:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Feb 25 (IANS) The police Wednesday charged the lone captured terrorist in last year’s Mumbai attacks, Mohammed Ajmal Amir alias Kasab, with “murder and waging war” against India, filing the first charge sheet in the terror strikes that killed over 170 people.
The voluminous charge sheet, running into over 11,000 pages, also names 37 others, including Indians and Pakistanis, for planning and abetting the attacks, a top law officer said.

The document was filed at the metropolitan magistrate’s court in south Mumbai.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujwal Nikam said the charges have been filed against Kasab and two other Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) activists Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Mohammed of India, and 35 others whom he declined to name.

The names and nationalities of other accused, listed as “wanted absconders”, were not known.

Kasab, a Pakistani national, is being held in the Arthur Road Jail since he was captured during the attacks, nearly three months ago.

The lone captured terrorist had not been formally charged so far. Nine other terrorists were killed during the 60-hour carnage inside luxury hotels and a Jewish centre in Mumbai. The formal filing of charges now paves the way for Kasab’s trial.

If found guilty, Kasab and those charged with waging war with India could face the death sentence.

“The trial will be conducted in the Z-security special court to be presided over by special judge M.L. Tahilyani inside the Arthur Road Jail precincts,” 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 said, shortly after stepping out of the metropolitan magistrate’s court.

While Fahim and Sabahuddin were present along with their lawyers, Kasab was not brought to the court on security grounds.

“However, we informed the court that Kasab will be given a copy of the charge sheet in jail and his acknowledgement will be submitted to the magistrate,” Nikam said.

The accused have been framed under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act, Explosives Act, Terrorist Act, Customs Act, and several others.

The offences listed are serious ones like murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, conspiracy of terror, trespassing, damaging public property, waging war against the nation and unlawful activities.

The law officer moved an application before magistrate M.J. Mirza seeking permission to file a supplementary charge sheet since more investigations are required to be carried out given the magnitude of the case and the gravity of the offences. The magistrate agreed.

Magistrate Mirza also extended the judicial custody of Kasab, Fahim and Sabahuddin till March 9, the next date of hearing for the case.

The charge sheet, which includes the detailed investigations dossier handed over to the Pakistan government, will be later committed to special court headed by judge Tahilyani who will preside over the terror attacks trial.

However, the confessional statement of Kasab was not attached to the charge sheet since the Mumbai police has not received it from the magistrate.

Even the so-called “30 questions” raised by Pakistan about the Mumbai terror attacks probe were not included since the police did not get those questions.

In an unusual occurrence, the charge sheet was filed in English, Hindi, Marathi and Urdu.

Investigators into the case have said that the names of some of the “wanted absconders” figuring in the charge-sheet include LeT operatives like Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Abu Hamza, Zarar Shah and more, believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

It has recounted in detail the entire terror conspiracy from the time it was hatched in Pakistan till its culmination in the brutal attacks in Mumbai lasting nearly 60 hours between Nov 26-29 last year.

The charge sheet provides details of the terrorist and arms training provided to Kasab and his nine associates who were gunned down during the combined security operations.

The terrorists killed in the operation according to the police include: Hafeez Arshad alias Bada Abdul Rehman, Javed alias Abu Ali, Shoaib alias Abu Soheb, Umar (all shot dead in Hotel Taj Mahal Palace & Tower); Abdul Rehman, Fahad Ullah alias Abu Fahad (both shot dead in Hotel Trident-Oberoi); Nasir alias Abu Umar, Babar Imran alias Abu Akash (eliminated at Nariman House) and Ismail Khan alias Abu Ismail (killed near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus).

It also reconstructs in detail how the terror journey started in a ship from Karachi Nov 22, the incidents on the high seas, the hijacking of an Indian fishing vessel Kuber, till they landed in a motorised rubber dingy at the small fishing jetty opposite Badhwar Park in Colaba, south Mumbai that day.

Documents from the dossier include items like arms, ammunition, communication equipments and explosives recovered from the dead terrorists and Kasab, reports of the forensic lab, and the DNA reports of articles of daily use, analysis reports of debris from Nariman House, Wadala and Vile Parle, which will help the prosecution fortify it case.

The police has also provided transcripts of taped conversations of the terrorists with their handlers in Pakistan which were intercepted, video-tapes of the terror attacks from the targetted locations, the details of cash and credit cards and other items found from them.

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