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Mumbai attacker in surprise guilty plea
Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:28am EDT
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By Rina Chandran
MUMBAI (Reuters) - The lone surviving gunman from last year's Mumbai attacks made a surprise guilty plea on Monday, admitting his role in the three-day rampage that killed 166 and raised tensions between India and Pakistan.
Pakistani citizen Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, 21, had been charged with 86 separate offences including murder and waging war against India in the November 26-28 assault.
During a routine interrogation of witnesses on Monday, Kasab got up and told the Mumbai court: "I have something to say. I want to confess," prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters.
He recorded a three-hour confession recounting his actions, officials said.
"He has confessed to his role and the fact that he was involved in the attacks that killed so many people ... the planning and the execution," lead police investigator Rakesh Maria told Reuters.
Kasab, who had pleaded not guilty in May, now faces a possible death sentence.
The only one of the 10 gunmen captured alive during the coordinated attacks on targets including two luxury hotels, a Jewish center and the train station, Kasab is among 38 charged in the attack. India says most of the accused are in Pakistan.
Kasab, who says he is from Faridkot in Pakistan, became the physical embodiment of India's contention that its neighboring rival had let its soil be used to plan and launch the attacks. That led Delhi to break off five-year peace talks with Pakistan.
Closed-circuit video footage caught during the siege of India's financial and entertainment capital showed Kasab carrying an AK-47 assault rifle in Mumbai's main train station.
Nikam said he was shocked, and suspicious of Kasab's actions.
"There were some contradictory details from the original confession and there are some things we will need to clarify too with the court, like why he made this confession today and what is the reason behind his U-turn," Nikam told reporters.
Kasab confessed to police shortly after capture, but later said he was coerced.
Among his new statements on Tuesday was that an Indian he identified as Abu Jundal had taught him and his accomplices Hindi before the attack. He gave no other details. In the past India has bristled at suggestions of a local hand in Mumbai.
Nikam called that new name "a ploy to divert the court's attention." He said police would nonetheless investigate. Continued...
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