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Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Mumbai accused says he was framed

Man alleged to be Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab
Mr Qasab now says he is not the attacker pictured in the photograph

The man alleged to be the sole surviving gunman in last year's Mumbai attacks, Mohammad Qasab, has retracted a confession that he took part.

Giving evidence in his defence, Mr Qasab, a Pakistani national, said he had been forced by police to confess after being repeatedly beaten up.

He said he was not the man seen in pictures wielding an assault rifle during the attacks.

Mr Qasab faces 86 charges, including waging war on India and murder.

The November 2008 attacks left 174 people dead, including nine gunmen, and strained ties between India and Pakistan.

The BBC's Prachi Pinglay said Mr Qasab looked calm in court as he repeatedly denied having anything to do with the attacks, insisting he had been framed by the police.

A special court in Mumbai (Bombay) is prosecuting him and a verdict in the case is expected early next year.

'Completely wrong'

Giving evidence in court, Mr Qasab said that all previous confessions he had given in relation to the attacks were false and made under duress. He said that an identity parade in which he took part had been "manipulated" by police.

Soldiers wait outside the Taj Mahal hotel in the last hours of the assault
Troops battled for three days to regain control of Mumbai in November 2008

He said that he had never been to any of the locations where the attacks took place and prior to his appearance in court had never even seen an AK-47 assault rifle.

He said that numerous eyewitness accounts of his role in the attacks were "completely wrong".

Mr Qasab said that Mumbai police had arrested him 20 days before the attacks on a beach in the state of Maharashtra and later went on to frame him.

He said he was in custody when the attacks took place.

He told the court that the man widely photographed as the sole surviving gunman in the attacks "was not me, but someone who resembles me".

In what our correspondent says was an apparent sign of his lack of belief that he will receive a fair trial, Mr Qasab urged the judge in the case to send him to jail as soon as possible.

On Wednesday the prosecution concluded its case in the trial.

In all, 610 witnesses have testified since the case began in March. Our correspondent says that Mr Qasab's latest comments mean that the main defence argument is one of identity.

Mr Qasab originally denied the charges against him but in July, in a dramatic outburst in court, he admitted his role and asked to be hanged. His plea was not accepted and the trial continued.

Following the attacks, India suspended peace talks with Pakistan.

After initial denials, Pakistan acknowledged that Mr Qasab was one of its citizens and that the attacks had been partially planned on its territory.

Last month, a court in Pakistan charged seven people in connection with the attacks, including the suspected mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who is the alleged head of the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.



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