Key suspect in Mumbai attacks heads to trial

Soldiers patrol in Mumbai on the eve of the trial of a key suspect in last year's attacks in the Indian city.
The main suspect captured alive from last year’s deadly terror attacks in India’s financial capital goes on trial Wednesday, nearly five months after the siege killed more than 160 people in Mumbai.

Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, 21, is accused of being the only one of 10 gunmen to survive the late-November, three-day siege, which targeted victims at hotels, hospitals and railway stations in Mumbai — formerly known as Bombay. The Pakistani national faces more than a dozen charges, including murder, conspiracy to wage a war against the nation, and terrorism. Prosecutors last month accused him of trying to delay the trial by insisting that the 11,000-page document detailing the charges against him — which was written in English and the local Marathi language — be translated into Urdu, the official language of Pakistan. The court rejected his request. An Indian court appointed one defense lawyer, Anjali Waghmare, just two weeks ago to represent Kasab.

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Wednesday’s trial will start in a makeshift court set up in an Indian jail where Kasab — who has been communicating with the judge via videolink — is being held.

Indian authorities have long blamed the Mumbai attacks on Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a Pakistan-based militant outfit, but the group has denied responsibility. The violence heightened tensions between the two nuclear states in its immediate aftermath. India has urged Pakistan to destroy what it called terrorist infrastructure in that country. The two counties are longtime rivals who have fought three wars since independence, and conducted countering nuclear weapons tests in 1998.