x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Mumbai defendant claims confession coerced

Lawyer for the Mumbai attacks suspect tells a special court that his confession was forced and he wanted to retract it.

MUMBAI // The lawyer for the alleged lone survivor among 10 gunmen who rampaged through Mumbai last November, killing 166 people, told a special court on today that his confession to the act was forced and he wanted to retract it. Police say Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, who sat barefoot in the dock dressed in a full-sleeve T-shirt and navy blue track pants, was one of the gunmen who arrived in Mumbai by sea from Pakistan to carry out the attacks.

The men had waged a war against India with the intention of capturing Kashmir, state prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told the court. "There is prima facie evidence that it was a criminal conspiracy, a clear case of war against the country aimed at capturing Kashmir," he said without elaborating. "It was a well-rehearsed and well-thought out plan backed by Pakistan intelligence agencies," Mr Nikam said, reading from a statement he said was Kasab's confession, recorded shortly after he was captured.

Pakistan's government has repeatedly denied any official involvement in the assault. Throughout the proceedings, Kasab, who could face the gallows if found guilty, sat quietly, hanging his head. His Defence lawyer Abbas Kazmi said Kasab wanted to retract the confession as it was made under duress. "My client has said he was tortured and that the confession was forced. He therefore wants to retract it," Mr Kazmi said.

The court will pass an order on the validity of the confession on Saturday, Judge ML Tahilyani said. He said the court would examine witnesses to the confession to determine if it had been forced. Earlier, Tahilyani dismissed a defence submission that Kasab was 17 years old at the time of the attack and must therefore be tried at a juvenile court. Mr Nikam, who plans to produce more than 1,800 witnesses and more than 750 pieces of evidence to prove Kasab's guilt, said he would show the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan and backed by intelligence agencies there.

"It is time for jihad, it is time to attack Hindustan (India) and since its business centre is Mumbai, we must attack Mumbai," Mr Nikam said Kasab was told, reading from the confession statement. *Reuters