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Suspect 'old enough for death'

INDIAN experts have declared that the only surviving suspect in last year's Mumbai terrorist attacks is over 20 years old, contradicting his claim he was a minor at the time of the assault, which would allow him to escape the death penalty.

On Monday, a team of four government doctors and forensic experts had examined Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani who has been charged with murder and waging war against India.

Prosecutors say Kasab and nine other gunmen, who were killed during the siege, are responsible for the deaths of 166 people and the injury of 304 more during the three-day siege last November.

Ahead of his trial that began earlier this month, Kasab's lawyer, Abbas Kazmi, had said his client was 17 at the time of the attacks and should be tried by a juvenile court.

Yesterday, the medical report said that all four doctors agreed that he "must be more than 20 years old."

The experts made their assessment based on a dental examination and X-rays of his elbow, chest, wrists, pelvis and shoulder.

The report was tabled in court before Judge M. L. Tahiliyani, who is conducting the trial.

Tahiliyani also heard evidence from the superintendent of the prison where Kasab is being held and the doctor who first attended to his injuries after the attacks. Both told the court he had told them he was 21 years old.

The public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam has also said Kasab had given his age as 21 in his confession and when he was admitted to hospital for injuries received during the attacks.

Kazmi has asked the court to disregard Kasab's confession, saying it had been made under duress.

Tahiliyani had ordered the medical tests last week. Kasab would face up to three years in prison if convicted as a minor, but death if convicted as an adult.


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