Kasab says not guilty of charges

Tags: Kasab, Politics
Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the man accused of being the lone surviving gunman from last year's Mumbai attack, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to 86 charges against him, including murder and waging war against India, lawyers said.

Kasab was charged with being directly involved in seven cases that caused the deaths of 72 people and being a co-conspirator in the deaths of all 166 people killed last November, said the public prosecutor.

"The prosecution today framed 86 charges against the accused, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges," Ujjwal Nikam told reporters after the court was adjourned for the day.

The charges range from waging war to hijacking a boat that carried the attackers to Mumbai.

Kasab faces the death penalty if found guilty.

Police say Kasab was one of 10 gunmen who landed in Mumbai by boat from Pakistan and rampaged through several of the city's landmarks including the main train station, two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre over three days.

Judge M.L. Tahilyani explained the charges to Kasab in Hindi and asked him if he understood, Nikam said. When asked how he pleaded, Kasab said he was not guilty.

Kasab also told the court on Wednesday he was 21 years old, Nikam said, putting to rest a defence submission that he was a minor and should therefore be tried in juvenile court.

The judge had earlier ordered medical and dental tests to confirm his age.

The prosecution will now begin to present its evidence and witnesses in each of the cases against the accused, Nikam said.

The prosecution has said it has more than 1,800 witnesses and more than 750 pieces of evidence.

Charges were also laid on Wednesday against Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed, two Indians accused of being members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group and of conducting reconnaissance of the Mumbai landmarks before the attack.

India has charged 38 people in all in connection with the attack. Most of them live in Pakistan, the government has said.

The attacks on India's financial hub sparked renewed tensions between India and Pakistan, with New Delhi saying state agencies were involved in the attacks. Pakistan has denied the charge.

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