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Mumbai terror attack suspect pleads not guilty

[JURIST] Alleged Mumbai terror attack [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] suspect Mohammed Ajmal Kasab pleaded not guilty Wednesday in an Indian court to 86 charges stemming from his participation in the November 2008 attack. Kasab, a Pakistani citizen, was formally charged [BBC report] at a special court in Mumbai in front of Judge M.L. Tahiliyani, where he denied any involvement in the attacks. Indian authorities have accused Kasab of attacking commuters at the Mumbai central train station during the attack. The charges against Kasab [Times of India report] include "waging war against India," which is punishable by death, "causing terror," destabilization of the government, murder, kidnapping, robbery, and the smuggling of illegal weapons and explosives. Two Indian defendants linked to the Islamic extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] also pleaded not guilty [AFP report] to conspiracy charges related to the charges against Kasab.

Last month, Tahiliyani removed a defense lawyer [JURIST report] from Kasab's case, citing a conflict of interest. Kasab first appeared [JURIST report] before Tahiliyani via video in March. In February, Pakistan officials conceded [JURIST report] that the attacks were partially planned in their country. Pakistan also stated that the perpetrators traveled by ship [NYT report] from southern Pakistan to Mumbai, where they launched the attack from inflatable boats using outboard engines purchased in Karachi, Pakistan. One scholar suggested that an international tribunal be formed [JURIST op-ed] to prosecute persons involved in Mumbai attacks in order to avoid further complications to the already unstable relationship between Pakistan and India. The attacks in Mumbai, which claimed at least 170 lives, were carried out at ten locations across the city including the landmark Taj Mahal Palace hotel.

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