Mumbai suspect 'made to confess'

Defendant says statement of his involvement in attacks was obtained under duress.

    Kazmi, centre, Kasab's defense lawyer, said his client confessed to the Mumbai attacks under duress [AFP]

    The disputed confession details how Kasab was trained, that Mumbai was chosen because it is India's financial capital, and that the attackers were told to "destroy" it, killing Americans, Britons, Israelis and other foreigners they found there.

    The court will pass an order on the validity of the confession on Saturday, ML Tahilyani, the judge presiding over the case, said.

    He said the court would examine witnesses to the confession to determine if it had been coerced.

    'Criminal conspiracy'

    Ujjwal Nikam, the special public prosecutor, said Kasab had confessed that the men aimed to wage a war against India with the intention of capturing the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

    Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed by both.

    "There is ... evidence that it was a criminal conspiracy, a clear case of war against the country aimed at capturing Kashmir," Nikam said.

    "It was a well-rehearsed and well-thought out plan backed by Pakistan intelligence agencies," Nikam said, reading from a statement that he said was Kasab's confession recorded shortly after he was detained.

    The latest development came a day after the court appointed Kazmi to represent Kasab, after Anjali Waghmare, his first attorney, was dismissed for reasons of perceived "conflict of interest".

    The court dismissed Waghmare for failing to disclose that she had also represented a witness injured in the Mumbai attacks in a compensation claim case.

    'Pakistani link'

    Kasab is said to belong to the banned Pakistan-based group, Lashkar-e-Taiba.

    Prosecutors say they have evidence that "undoubtedly and conclusively" links the attacks to Pakistan, including mobile and satellite phone communication between the armed attackers and their alleged Lashkar "handlers".

    The special public prosecutor told the court on Friday that at least one Pakistani military officer was involved in the attack and its sophistication suggested the involvement of Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency.

    It is also alleged that Kasab's DNA and fingerprints were found on items retrieved from the hijacked Indian fishing trawler the men used to get to the Mumbai coast.

    There is CCTV and other footage allegedly of Kasab at Mumbai's main railway station, where more than 50 people were killed when the attackers opened fire with AK-47 assault rifles and threw grenades.

    Thirty witnesses also picked him out in identification parades, the charge sheet said.

    Kasab is charged with 12 criminal counts, including murder and waging war against India. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

    Two Indian nationals are also on trial on charges of providing the group with logistical support before the attacks.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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