Mumbai attacker appeals against death penalty

Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab in the middle of the attacks Qasab was found guilty of mass murder

There is tight security in Mumbai where a court has begun hearing an appeal by the sole surviving gunman of the 2008 attacks on the Indian city.

Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, a Pakistani national, is contesting the death sentence passed in May.

Due to security concerns, the 23-year-old appeared at the high court in Mumbai via a video link from prison.

More than 170 people died when Qasab and nine other militants attacked various targets.

Qasab was found guilty of mass murder and waging war against India.

'Wild behaviour'

The BBC's Prachi Pinglay, who was inside the court in Mumbai on Monday, says Qasab wore white clothes that looked like prison uniform as he appeared via video link during the proceedings.

The death row inmate, who had a thin moustache and stubble, smiled frequently as he looked into the camera, our correspondent says.

The appeal opened with the prosecution arguing why the death sentence should be upheld. Qasab's lawyers will open their arguments later.

Earlier, police set up barricades outside the court and those entering the building had to go through security checks.

During the appeal hearing - which is expected to last about three months - a panel of judges will review evidence previously submitted.

If Qasab loses, he has the right to appeal to the country's Supreme Court and then to India's president.

Ten gunmen attacked Mumbai on 26 November 2008. All of them except Qasab were killed during the attacks.

He and an accomplice carried out the assault on the city's main railway station, killing 52 people.

Last month, the High Court in Mumbai heard that Qasab had attacked prison officials after they caught him carrying out an unspecified illegal act.

During that hearing, prosecutors said Qasab had to be closely monitored because of his "dangerous nature and wild behaviour".

The court in Mumbai is also due to hear a prosecution appeal against the acquittal of Qasab's two Indian co-defendants.

Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed were accused of providing the gunmen with hand-drawn maps.

But during the trial, the judge rejected the case against them as too weak.

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