Mumbai: The lone surviving gunman from the November 2008 terror attack on Mumbai was on Monday convicted of murder and waging war against India.
Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, 22, a Pakistani, was among 10 militants who killed 166 people in the attack that lasted three days and triggered fresh tension between the neighbouring nations.
A special court found Kasab guilty on 86 charges, including the killing of 59 people. He will be sentenced on Tuesday and could face death.
Lone survivor: A Feb 2009 photo of Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab. Reuters
“It was not a simple act of murder. It was war,” special anti-terror court judge M.L. Tahaliyani said in a summary of the 1,522-page judgement. “This type of preparation is not made by ordinary criminals. This type of preparation is made by those waging war.”
The court also held that 20 of the 35 accused, including Pakistan-based terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed and operations chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, had conspired for the Mumbai attack.
Pakistan has repeatedly denied that the attack was planned on its soil.
Tahaliyani, however, acquitted Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, two Indians charged with conspiring with the gunmen and their handlers, for lack of evidence. The two had been accused of preparing maps of target sites in Mumbai for LeT.
Among the targeted sites were the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, Hotel Oberoi-Trident, and Chabad House, a Jewish centre.
Kasab, clad in whites, stared blankly at the ground when the charges were read out.
“I am very happy (about Kasab’s conviction). But I regret the acquittal of two other accused... The court has given them the benefit of the doubt,” public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters after the judgement. “We will challenge their acquittal.”
“We are satisfied that the trial of Mohammad Ajmal Kasab has ended in a conviction,” home minister P. Chidambaram said in a statement in New Delhi.
Kasab’s trial began on 8 May 2009 after judge Tahaliyani was appointed to preside over the court, in specially built bullet- and bomb-proof premises in a high-security jail. “The trial has been swift and conducted in the most lawful and just manner,” said senior supreme court lawyer K.T.S. Tulsi. After the judgement, families of police officers killed in the Mumbai attack demanded the death sentence for Kasab.
Vaishali Ombale, daughter of Tukaram Ombale, an assistant sub-inspector who was killed capturing Kasab, said her family would never forgive the gunman, who had altered their lives forever. “I, my family and the people of India want Kasab hanged,” she said.
Reuters and PTI contributed to this story