Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 16:09 UK

Mumbai suspect trial to proceed

Mumbai gunman, identified as Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab
Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab opened fire on commuters, it is alleged

The trial of the main suspect in the Mumbai (Bombay) attacks will continue despite his admission of guilt, the judge has ruled.

Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab's confession will go on record but it does not address all 86 charges he faces, Judge ML Tahiliyani said.

The trial has now resumed and prosecution witnesses have started giving evidence in court.

More than 170 people were killed in the attacks, nine of them gunmen.

Mr Qasab, who is a Pakistani, faces 86 charges, including waging war on India, murder and possessing explosives.

In May, he pleaded not guilty to all charges. Prosecutors say he changed his plea to secure leniency.

As the trial resumed it was confirmed that Mr Qasab's defence lawyer, Abbas Kazmi, would continue as his counsel.

He had earlier offered to withdraw from the case, after which the judge asked Mr Qasab and Mr Kazmi to "speak to each other and sort out your problem".

Prosecutors also filed an application to call up six Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials as witnesses, saying they had gathered "clinching evidence" during their investigation.


The prosecution had argued that the trial should proceed, while the defence said it should end and a judgement be delivered if the court accepted Mr Qasab's plea.

Judge Tahiliyani said the confessional statement made by the accused on Monday and Tuesday would remain on record, but described it as a partial admission.

"At the outset I am not inclined to pronounce the judgement... The accused has not admitted to all charges. He admits certain parts, admission of guilt for certain charges. He has not admitted to many of the 86 charges," Judge Tahiliyani said.

Waging war on India
Conspiracy to murder
Destabilising the government
Smuggling and possessing illegal arms and explosives

"I will not express any views on the evidential value [of the statement] at this stage as it is not necessary. I have already indicated that the trial will proceed further."

The ruling came a day after the accused said he was ready to be hanged after the prosecution suggested his confession was a ploy to secure a lighter sentence.

Chief public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said by making the confession, the accused was putting the larger share of the blame on his accomplice [Abu Ismail] who was already dead.

At this point Mr Qasab said: "If anyone believes that I am doing this [pleading guilty] to get mercy, then go ahead and hang me."


Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, 21, was arrested on the first day of the attacks and has been in Indian custody ever since.

He is alleged to be the only one of 10 gunmen to have survived. The others were all killed by Indian security forces.

The attacks led to a worsening of relations between India and Pakistan. India accused Pakistan-based fighters from the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba of carrying out the attacks.

In the immediate aftermath of the killings, Pakistan denied any responsibility, but later admitted the attacks had been partly planned on its soil.

Islamabad also eventually confirmed that Mr Qasab was a Pakistani citizen.

That admission, Mr Qasab said on Monday, was what had prompted him to confess.

He said his decision to do so had been taken voluntarily.

The move took everyone by surprise, most notably his own lawyers.

He could face the death penalty if convicted and given the maximum sentence.

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