Mumbai Suspect Confesses in Court

The lone surviving gunman from last year's Mumbai attacks, a Pakistani national, on Monday pleaded guilty at his trial, admitting for the first time his part in the atrocity that killed 166 people.

Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, 21, told a special prison court - where he had originally pleaded not guilty - that he wanted to confess, taking the judge, prosecution and his own defence lawyer by surprise, AFP reports.

After speaking to his lawyer very briefly, Mr Qasab said: "I accept my guilt."

Judge M L Tahiliyani asked him to what was he pleading guilty. Mr Qasab admitted that he had carried out the firing at Mumbai's railway station in November 2008.

The judge then heard arguments from prosecution and defence lawyers over whether a confession could be recorded at this stage of the trial.

When it was noted by the court that he could indeed make the confession, Mr Qasab proceeded to give a detailed account of how he and nine others came to Mumbai from Karachi last November, and the training that led up to it.

Speaking for several hours, he first described what happened when he and accomplice Abu Ismail entered the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station.

"In CST, Abu Ismail and I started firing at the public there with our AK-47 rifles. Ismail was throwing grenades also. I was firing," he said.

"We went ahead towards the hall. The police caught up with us at the time and started firing at us. We retaliated. Ismail took position behind the trains which were parked. I took position behind him. I fired at the police."

He then described how they left the station and headed to the Cama hospital - confronting four people in one of the wards.

From the hospital, he said, the two men were involved in a gun battle with the police before his arrest at the city's sea front.

Mr Qasab also told the court about how he got to know of the "weapon training", how he joined the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and how he completed different levels of training before he was sent to Mumbai, BBC News reports.

Nikam, the prosecutor, commenting on this said that Kasab has "confessed, but also very intelligently."

"He disclosed some information, and hid a lot of other crucial information," he said. "Why did he do this and why all of a sudden? Perhaps the events in Pakistan left him feeling that he has no other option anymore."

The prosecutor recalled that Kasab initially told authorities he was underage when he was arrested, apparently hoping for leniency. "He had been trying different tactics all this while to wriggle out of the case," Nikam said. "I feel this is another trick that he is playing to get a lesser sentence," The Washington Post reports.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team