Judge accepts Mumbai account

Trial to continue despite confession

By Erika Kinetz
Associated Press / July 24, 2009

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MUMBAI, India - The trial of the lone surviving gunman in the Mumbai attacks will continue despite his surprise admission of guilt, a judge ruled yesterday, ensuring that the young Pakistani will be prosecuted for all 86 charges, including murder and conspiracy to wage war against India.

Ajmal Kasab, 21, unexpectedly confessed Monday to taking part in the November attack that paralyzed 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 to avoid the death penalty. In response, Kasab said he was willing to be hanged for his actions.

Judge M.L. Tahiliyani decided yesterday to accept Kasab’s confession as evidence, but ordered the trial to continue because the accused did not address all the charges against him.

Kasab admitted spraying gunfire into the crowd at Mumbai’s main train station but denied killing four Mumbai policemen.

The gunman also linked the attack to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant outfit formed in the 1980s with the blessing of Pakistan’s intelligence services, bolstering India’s allegations that Pakistan is not doing enough to clamp down on terrorist groups.

Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said he wants to wrap up proceedings in a month and plans to call FBI witnesses.