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Ajmal Kasab’s ‘confession’ accepted on record, 26/11 trial to continue

On a day of drama, Mohd. Ajmal Amir Kasab’s lawyer decided to withdraw from the 26/11 terror attack case but later retracted even as the special court on Thursday ordered that the trial of the Pakistani gunman will continue.

Kasab’s lawyer Abbas Kazmi told the court that he would like to pull out of the case as his client has lost confidence in him but later said he will continue to represent him.

Special Judge M L Tahilyani, hearing the case in the high security Arthur Road jail in central Mumbai, said the trial will continue as Kasab has confessed to the basic offence but not pleaded guilty to 86 charges slapped on him.

The judge told 22-year-old Kasab, “Aap ke khilaaf 86 charges frame kiye the. Apne sab nahin kabool kiye hain, lekin gunaah kabool kiya hai. Isiliye court ne decision liya hai ki yeh case chalega. (There were 86 charges framed against you. You have not pleaded guilty to all of them. You have confessed only to the basic offence. That is why the court has taken the decision to continue with the trial).”

To this, Kasab just said “theek hai “(okay). Taking everyone by surprise, Kasab had on Monday pleaded guilty to his involvement in the attacks at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and other locations. The terror strikes by Kasab and nine others in Mumbai had left 183 dead.

In his order, the judge said the court has come to a conclusion that Kasab’s statement should be taken on record and considered at an appropriate stage as evidence.

The court instructed the prosecution to continue with the trial and produce witnesses.

“The prosecution’s stance is totally vindicated by the order of the court,” special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters outside the court.

“The court has accepted our contention that Kasab has not pleaded guilty for the entire incident and did not confess to all the charges. The court has said that his admission of guilt can be taken on record and will be considered at a later stage,” Nikam said.

The prosecution had argued on Wednesday that Kasab’s confession be taken on record but the trial should be allowed to continue since the gunman had not admitted to his guilt in all the offences in which he was involved.

However, the defence lawyer had argued that Kasab should be sentenced if his plea was accepted. Else, the court should reject it and not take the statement on record at all.

As the hearing commenced, Kazmi said, “Sir, I feel I should withdraw at this stage. He (Kasab) does not take me into confidence and I will recuse myself.”

The judge then explained to Kasab in Hindi that his lawyer has gained an impression on his having no confidence in Kazmi and hence wants to withdraw.

“Maine aise kuch nahin kaha hai (I have not said anything like that),” Kasab said.

The court then told Kasab to speak with his lawyer and clear any misunderstandings between them. “It appears he has certain misunderstandings. Your duty is to clear it and I do not think it is a big issue,” the court said.

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