The lawyer for the main suspect in last year’s deadly terrorist attack in Mumbai has been removed, delaying the high-profile trial that was to begin Wednesday.
It was unclear when court proceedings would resume for Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, 21. He is accused of being the only one of 10 gunmen to survive the three-day siege, which killed more than 160 people in November. As the trial was to begin, the judge removed attorney Anjali Waghmare because she also was representing a witness in the case. Waghmare argued that she had no idea that the person was a witness. But the judge declared that it was a conflict of interest. An Indian court appointed Waghmare two weeks ago to represent Kasab, and it was unclear who would replace her. Kasab, a Pakistani national, faces more than a dozen charges, including murder, conspiracy to wage a war against the nation and terrorism.
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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. Wednesday’s trial was to take place in a makeshift court set up in a 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 initially heightened tensions between the two nuclear states. India has urged Pakistan to destroy what it calls terrorist infrastructure in that country. The two nations are longtime rivals that have fought three wars since independence from the British, and conducted countering nuclear weapons tests in 1998.