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Central & South Asia
Mumbai raid suspect 'pleads guilty'
Sole surviving suspect in attack on India's financial hub changes his plea, official say.
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2009 15:10 GMT

Kasab's trial has been taking place at a special bomb-proof court in Mumbai's Arthur Road jail [AFP]

Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving suspect in the November Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, has pleaded guilty in a Mumbai court, according to a senior police officer.

It was not immediately clear what prompted Kasab, a Pakistani national, to make the statement after consistently denying over the past several months that he was guilty.

"Yes, he has pleaded guilty in court today for the November attacks during a hearing," Rakesh Maria, the police chief who is overseeing the investigation into the attacks, said on Monday.

"Everybody in the court was shocked the moment he said he accepts his crime. It was unexpected,'' Ujjwal Nikam, the public prosecutor said.

Kasab had pleaded not guilty in May to 86 charges against him, including murder and waging war against India.

Harish Salve, a senior supreme court lawyer, said it was not clear if Kasab confessed voluntarily.

"I am sorry to play the party spoiler. But I hope he doesn't come the day after and give it another twist,'' Salve said.

Narration of events

In his statement, Kasab gave details of his group's journey from Pakistan on a boat, their subsequent landing in Mumbai, and the rampage that followed as the gunmen shot and killed people at a railway station, a Jewish centre and two five-star hotels, including the Taj Mahal.

Preeti Gupta, a journalist in Mumbai, told Al Jazeera that Kasab said it was an Indian who gave them the maps [to travel from Pakistan].

"He said it was an Indian who helped them to navigate the entire area to reach Mumbai.

"It was previously said there were no Indians involved in the entire conspiracy," she said.

India says Pakistani security agencies nurtured armed groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India blames for the attacks.

Islamabad denies state involvement and has vowed to catch the guilty. It has detained several leaders with links to Lashkar.

"Pakistan's federal agency has stated that they accept that Kasab is Pakistani and have passed on a dossier to India," Gupta said.

"Initially Pakistan was not accepting that he was a Pakistani.

"[Now] Kasab knows he’ll be tried here [in India] and he'll be sentenced here, and that is the reason he had the change of heart". 

Three-day rampage

The attacks were carried out by 10 armed men who targeted India's financial capital on November 26.

The rampage ended three days later when troops stormed the Taj Mahal Hotel where some of the men were hiding.

While most of the attackers were killed after a prolonged gunfight with security forces, Kasab was captured alive.

He was treated for wounds and has since been held in solitary confinement in Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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