Mumbai Suspect Trial is Delayed
6 Apr 09 | BBC
The trial of the man accused of being the only gunman to survive the Mumbai attacks has been delayed while a high security court room is constructed.
Prosecutors are now due to open their case next week. Legal proceedings have also been stalled because Ajmal Amir Qasab had no lawyer until last week.
Qasab has been charged with murder and “waging war” against India.
More than 170 people died in November’s attacks on India’s financial capital, including nine gunmen who were killed.
India accused Pakistan-based militants from the banned group Lashkar-e-Taiba of carrying out the attacks. Pakistan has admitted they were partly planned on its soil.
Qasab, 21, was arrested on the first day of the attacks and has been in custody ever since.
Two Indians who are accused of being Lashkar-e-Taiba members, Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, also face trial. They are accused of scouting for the attacks.
The BBC’s Karishma Vaswani in Mumbai says police are working round the clock on elaborate security preparations for what promises to be one of India’s most high-profile trials.
A new court room is being built for Qasab’s trial.
Work is under way on a six-metre-long bomb-proof tunnel connecting Qasab’s jail cell to the court where he will be tried.
It is the first time a measure like this has been taken in India, and the work is expected to cost almost $400,000.
For security reasons, Qasab has appeared before the trial judge twice so far, on both occasions through a video link.
The chief prosecutor in the case, Ujjwal Nikkam, says the legal proceedings cannot begin until work on the new court room is completed.
Prosecutors have been instructed to open their case on 15 April, by which time the authorities expect the work to have finished.
The case has generated huge interest in India.
After the Mumbai attacks last in November, Indians were outraged by what they saw as the inability of their leaders to protect them in their own country.
The government is under pressure to improve security, which is a top priority with voters in general elections which are just 10 days away, our correspondent says.
OTHER MAIN QASAB CHARGES
- Firing at CST train station
- Firing inside and outside Cama Hospital
- Hijacking of Skoda vehicle
- Murder of MV Kuber boatman
- Firing at Girgaum Chowpatty beach