Sunday, April 19, 2009

FBI played 'vital role'

'FBI investigators have played a vital role in disclosing the truth in this case... and exposing the nexus between (Mohammed Ajmal Kasab) and the deceased accused,' said public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MUMBAI - THE US Federal Bureau of Investigation played a key part in establishing the case against the suspected Pakistani gunman on trial in India for last year's Mumbai attacks, a court heard on Saturday.

Kasab, 21, is alleged to have been part of a wider criminal conspiracy devised in Pakistan by the banned Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba and unnamed 'supporting agencies'.

Some 166 people died and more than 300 were injured when 10 heavily armed gunmen rampaged through India's financial and entertainment capital, attacking two luxury hotels, the main railway station, a Jewish centre and other targets. Kasab is the only surviving alleged gunman.

Mr Nikam said in his opening remarks at a top security prison court in Mumbai that the FBI and other specialists had discovered a number of clues that strengthened the prosecution case.

They include:
# A fingerprint from Kasab's left hand on a glass door of the MV Kuber, an Indian fishing vessel the gunmen allegedly hijacked to take them to Mumbai from the southern Pakistani city of Karachi.
# DNA on a number of items found on board that exactly matched that of Kasab and his fellow attackers.
# A diary written in Urdu detailing all the gunmen's names and what arms and ammunition they had been given.

- Six pieces of pink-coloured foam found on the fishing vessel that exactly matched that wrapped around an improvised explosive device in a rucksack allegedly abandoned in Mumbai by Kasab.

The FBI examined the inflatable speedboat that took the gunmen from the fishing vessel to the Mumbai shoreline and found that the Japanese-manufactured engine had been shipped to Pakistan, Nikam said. Five Nokia mobile phone handsets recovered from three locations after the attacks were found to have been made in China and shipped to Pakistan for sale, he added.

'This evidence can be relied upon. This is strong evidence,' even if Kasab now claims he was forced to sign a 'confession' and had been tortured in police custody, Mr Nikam said. -- AFP

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