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Mumbai Terror Attack Trial Begins


In India, the trial of the lone suspected gunman captured in last year's Mumbai terror attacks has begun under heavy security. But, the defense says his confession about the attacks was forced and he wants to retract it.

In its opening arguments in a Mumbai special court Friday, the prosecution accused Mohammed Ajmal Kasab of being part of a "meticulously planned and ruthlessly executed" plot hatched in Pakistan, and backed by its intelligence agency.

Kasab is being tried in connection with last November's terror strikes in Mumbai on multiple targets which killed 166 people.

Ten gunmen mounted the attacks. Kasab was the only one captured alive, and he is being tried on 12 criminal counts, including murder and waging war against India. Two alleged Indian accomplices are also being tried along with Kasab.

Public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said Kasab has confessed that part of the aim of the attackers was to weaken the Indian government and capture Kashmir, where Islamic terror groups have waged a separatist insurgency for two decades.

"The terror attack of 26 November in Mumbai was in order to capture [the] Kashmir, and just to wage war, this was one of the objectives of the criminal conspiracy that has been disclosed by accused Ajmal Kasab," he said.

The defense lawyer said Kasab wants to retract his confession as it was extracted under torture. The judge will pass an order on the validity of the confession on Saturday after examining witnesses to the confession.

The public prosecutor read extracts from the confession saying that the attackers in Mumbai wanted to specifically target foreign nationals.

"Accused Kasab had disclosed in his judicial confession that it was decided amongst them to kill American nationals, English nationals, Israeli nationals, German nationals, as these nations are having very cordial and good relations with India," he said.

The trial began after the judge dismissed a plea by the defense that the case should be transferred to a juvenile court because Kasab is under 18 years. Indian authorities say he is 21 years old.

In a country where trials drag on for years, Indian authorities have said they hope to complete the trial in six months to a year. The high profile trial is being held in a special bomb proof courtroom. Kasab faces the death penalty if found guilty.

Pakistan has acknowledged that Kasab is a Pakistani citizen and that the attacks were partly plotted on its soil. But Islamabad has strongly denied that any official agency abetted the attacks, which raised tensions between India and Pakistan.

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