An Indian court is expected to give its verdict today in the trial of a Pakistani man accused of gunning down dozens of people during the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.
Mohammed Ajmal Kasab is said to have been one of 10 gunmen who killed 166 people in the three-day rampage in the city, also known as Bombay, that continues to strain relations between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan.
Nine gunmen were killed in the attacks.
Kasab is accused of the most lethal episode of the siege. Prosecutors say he and an accomplice rampaged through one of Mumbai’s busiest stations, killing 58 and wounding 104. The carnage was captured on film and became iconic images of the attacks.
India blames the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba for masterminding the siege. Two Indians accused of helping plot the attacks are also standing trial.
All three defendants face a string of charges including waging war against India, which could bring the death penalty.
“I, my family and people of India want Kasab hanged. This is what matters to us,” Vaishali Ombale told the Press Trust of India news agency on Friday.
Kasab is accused of killing the 23-year-old’s father shortly before his capture.
Kasab’s trial at a special court in Mumbai has been conducted in four languages and featured more than 600 witnesses. Despite its complexity, the trial has lasted only about a year – unusual speed for India’s sclerotic judicial system.
One of the memorable moments in the trial came in July, when Kasab made a surprise confession. He later retracted that statement, saying he had been tortured.
The attacks and subsequent investigation have added pressure to India and Pakistan’s already tense relations.
This month Pakistan asked India to hand over Kasab and co-defendant Fahim Ansari so they could be tried by Islamabad. India has yet to oblige.
Pakistan has brought charges against seven suspected of involvement in the attack, but top Lashkar leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is not among them, much to India’s anger.
Pakistan has promised to speed up its planned trial of suspects – a key demand of India. The two countries’ leaders agreed last week for their foreign ministers to meet – a key step toward resuming a formal peace dialogue suspended after the Mumbai attacks.