India charged the lone surviving gunman from the deadly Mumbai attacks on Wednesday in a 11,000-page document marking the beginning of a legal process that could lead to his execution — and raise tensions with Pakistan.
Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani, was captured in the early hours of the attacks and jailed ever since. Nine other attackers were killed during the three-day siege in November, which left 164 people dead and targeted luxury hotels, a Jewish center and other sites across the city.
The 21-year-old Kasab faces 12 charges. If convicted on the two most serious counts — murder and waging war against India — he will likely face the death penalty.
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said he expected the trial to begin in coming weeks and conclude within six months — unusually swift for India, where the legal process can drag on for decades. The trial in India's deadliest terror attack, the 1993 Mumbai bombings that killed 257 people, took 14 years to complete.
"I hope they hang Kasab," Divya Salaskar, the daughter of a police officer killed in the attacks, told the NDTV television station. She called for "a quick trial and a quick result."
The trial could further inflame tensions with Pakistan as it lays out the role of Pakistani groups in the assault.
India blames the attack on Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamist militant group widely believed created by Pakistani intelligence agencies in the 1980s to fight Indian rule in the divided Kashmir region. The charges do not mention Pakistan's intelligence agency.
India says all 10 attackers were from Pakistan.
Other suspects 'absconded'
Earlier this month, Pakistani officials acknowledged that the Mumbai attacks were partly plotted on its soil and announced criminal proceedings against eight suspects.
The filing against Kasab — detailed in an 11,000-page document that took several men to carry — included his alleged confession, accounts from more than 2,000 witnesses and closed-circuit television footage that shows him and an accomplice walking into Mumbai's crowded Chhatrapati Shivaji train station and spraying it with bullets.
Indian law requires that charges be filed against a suspect within 90 days of arrest. Kasab was formally arrested Nov. 28.
Kasab has received a copy of the police charge sheet, Nikam said Wednesday. Nikam said at least 35 other suspects in the attacks had "absconded" and authorities would continue investigating. He declined to list their names or nationalities.
On Wednesday, Indian police also filed charges against two Indian citizens suspected of aiding the attackers, Nikam said.
Prosecutors say one man, Faheem Ansari, had maps of the sites attacked in Mumbai, and police say the other, Sabauddin Ahmed, guided gunmen across India's porous borders. They were jailed last February after an attack on a police station in northern India.
Both men were in court when the charges were filed.