- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 25, 2009

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Investigators charged the lone surviving gunman from the Mumbai attacks with 12 crimes on Wednesday, including murder and waging war against India.

Pakistani Mohammed Ajmal Kasab has been held by the police since he was captured in the early hours of the attacks, but had not been formally charged. Nine other attackers were killed during the three-day siege, which left 164 people dead and targeted luxury hotels, a Jewish center and other sites across the city.

Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said he expected the trial to begin in the coming weeks and conclude in three to six months.

The charges — which are detailed in a document more than 10,000 pages long — also included Kasab’s confession, accounts from 150 witnesses and closed circuit television footage that shows him and his accomplice walking into Mumbai’s crowded Chhatrapati Shivaji train station and spraying it with bullets, Mumbai police’s main investigator Rakesh Maria had said earlier.

Indian law requires that charges be filed against a suspect within 90 days of arrest. Kasab was formally arrested November 28.

Kasab has been given a copy of the police charge sheet, Nikam said Wednesday. He also said that at least 35 other suspects in the attacks had “absconded” and authorities would continue investigating. He declined to list their names or nationalities.

If convicted on the two most critical charges — murder and waging war against India — the 21-year-old Kasab will likely face the death penalty.

India has blamed the attack on Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamist militant group widely believed created by Pakistani intelligence agencies in the 1980s to fight India rule in the divided Kashmir region.

India has also said that all 10 attackers were from Pakistan.

Earlier this month, Pakistani officials acknowledged that the Mumbai attacks were partly plotted on its soil and announced criminal proceedings against eight suspects.

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