An Indian judge has accepted the confession of the lone surviving gunman from last November’s shootings in Mumbai, but said today that the trial would proceed anyway.
Young Pakistani Ajmal Kasab unexpectedly confessed on Monday to taking part in the attacks which paralysed India’s financial capital and killed 166 people.
The court had delayed a decision on whether to accept his confession and guilty plea, with prosecutors arguing that his statement was incomplete and accusing Kasab of seeking clemency. In response, Kasab said he was willing to be hanged for his actions.
Judge ML Tahiliyani decided today to accept Kasab’s confession, but ordered the trial to continue because the accused did not address all 86 charges against him.
“The trial will proceed,” he said.
Kasab’s confession linked the attack to a shadowy but well-organised group in Pakistan.
The statement bolstered India’s charges that terrorist groups across the border were behind the well-planned attack, and that Pakistan is not doing enough to clamp down on them.
After the judge made his ruling, defence lawyer Abbas Kazmi asked to be disqualified from the case, saying that his client had no faith in him.
“If he has no confidence in me, there is no sense in me continuing in the case,” he said.
The judge urged Mr Kazmi to remain on the case and told the lawyer and defendant to discuss their relationship during a recess.
Chief Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had tried to get Kasab’s confession thrown out, saying it was neither complete nor accurate.
Kasab admitted spraying gunfire into the crowd at Mumbai’s main railway station, and described in detail a network of training camps and safe houses across Pakistan, revealing the names of four men he said were his handlers.
He denied killing four Mumbai policemen whose deaths remain touchstones of grief and anger in India.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said yesterday that Islamabad was waiting for copies of the confession, but he said it would not impede the ongoing effort at dialogue between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
The court has issued arrest warrants for 22 Pakistanis accused of conspiring in the attack.