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Defense lawyer for Mumbai attack accused dismissed

Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving member of the 10-man group which attacked several Mumbai landmarks, is seen at an undisclosed location under police custody in this undated video grab shown by CNN IBN Television channel since February 3, 2009. REUTERS/CNN IBN/Handout

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The lawyer for the lone surviving gunman accused of the Mumbai attacks was removed from the case on Monday for non-cooperation, days after the country marked the first anniversary of the three-day siege that killed 166 people.

Abbas Kazmi, the attorney for Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the only one of the 10 gunmen captured last November, was dismissed by judge M.L. Tahilyani for refusing to follow the court’s directive, which the judge said was aimed at delaying the trial.

Kazmi’s assistant K.P. Pawar will now represent Kasab.

“The court has today canceled the appointment of defense attorney Abbas Kazmi and appointed his assistant as the lead defense lawyer in the case,” said public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.

“There will not be any further delays to the trial as I have already presented 340 witnesses,” he said.

The trial, which has gripped the country for about eight months, has seen several twists and turns, with a previous defense attorney also dismissed for unprofessional conduct and Kasab making a surprise guilty plea.

Kasab, a Pakistani national who is among 38 charged by India in the attack, has been charged with 86 offences, including murder and waging war against India. If found guilty, he could face the death penalty.

Last week, a Pakistani court indicted seven Pakistani suspects in connection with the attacks.

Reporting by Rina Chandran; Editing by Matthias Williams