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Judge Accepts Mumbai Gunman's Confession, Trial to Continue

  • Anjana Pasricha

Days after a Pakistani gunman captured in last year's terror strikes in Mumbai made a dramatic confession in an Indian court, a judge has ordered his trial to continue - despite his admission of guilt. The suspect is one of the extremists who mounted terror strikes in India's financial hub last year, killing 166 people.

Judge M.L. Tahiliyani said Thursday he will accept the detailed confession made by 21-year-old Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, regarding his role in last year's terror attacks in Mumbai.

However, the judge told the prosecution to continue lining up witnesses to testify against Kasab, saying his trial will continue.

Earlier this week, Kasab took lawyers by surprise when he changed his plea to guilty and admitted that he sprayed gunfire at Mumbai's main train station after arriving in the city from Pakistan with other nine other gunmen. Kasab was the only one captured alive.

The defense had said that, if the plea was accepted, the trial should end and a sentence delivered.

But Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam says the judge has called Kasab's confession only a partial admission of guilt, and says the suspect has not admitted to all 86 charges against him. These include murder and waging war against India.

"The statement of Kasab admitting his guilt can be used at an appropriate stage. In fact, the court has also noted that Kasab did not admit all the charges, but he has admitted partly, and court has further ordered that Kasab's plea of admission of guilt - that can be considered only when the prosecution completes its case," said Nikam.

There was more drama in court Thursday, when the defense lawyer said he did not want to continue, because his client had no faith in him. Kasab had caught his lawyer by surprise when confessed in court. The judge has asked them to sort out their differences.

Kasab has told the court he pled guilty because he would rather be hanged in this world than face God's punishment in the next. He has said he did not want mercy from the court and that he understands the implications of his confession.

The prosecution had argued that Kasab changed his plea from innocent to guilty to secure a more-lenient sentence.

The capture of Kasab and Islamabad's admission that he was a Pakistani citizen has helped India bolster its case that the attacks were planned and executed by a terror group based in Pakistan.

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