Kasab spills 26/11 beans, then wants to retract confession (Roundup)

April 17th, 2009 - 8:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, April 17 (IANS) The ultimate motive of the Nov 26 Mumbai terrorist attacks was to weaken the Indian government and capture Kashmir, the sole caught-alive Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab confessed before he retracted his confessional statement in a special court Friday.
The conspiracy involved terrorists carrying out attacks in Mumbai and other major metropolitan cities with a view to weakening the Indian government and enabling them achieve their ultimate objective of capturing the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said, opening the case before Additional Sessions Judge M.L. Tahilyani, the special judge presiding over the 26/11 trial.

“Kasab has confessed to receiving training in handling arms and ammunition from a Pakistani military officer of the rank of major-general. When Kasab excelled in his shooting skills, the major-general had patted him on the back, he has said,” Nikam told mediapersons after stepping out of the first day of the day-to-day hearing in the trial.

Kasab also revealed that he and his associates were trained and specifically instructed to kill foreign nationals in the five-star hotels - Hotel Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and Hotel Trident-Oberoi - which were targeted.

“They were told to kill foreign nationals from the United States, Israel, Germany, the UK and other nations, which enjoy good relations with India,” Nikam said.

There were nearly two dozen foreigners of different nationalities among the more than 170 victims of the terror attacks.

However, Kasab retracted his confessional statement.

The court-appointed government lawyer representing Kasab, S.G. Abbas Kazmi, told reporters after the first day’s hearing that he showed the 40-page confession to Kasab after the sealed envelope containing it was opened Friday morning.

“I asked him whether this is your statement and it is your signature,” Kazmi said.

Kasab replied the confessional statement was taken by the police under pressure and he did not record it voluntarily. He also claimed that he was not given an opportunity to have his say, so he made the confessional statement under duress.

“Accordingly, as per his instructions, I have moved an application before Special Judge M.L. Tahilyani, seeking to retract Kasab’s confessional statement,” Kazmi said.

“After Kasab’s confessional statement was provided to us, he immediately said this is not his confession… that my (Kasab’s) signatures were obtained by coercion,” Kazmi said.

As his statement was made in front of a magistrate, “the magistrate will come as witness, will be questioned and cross-questioned and then the court has to decide if the confessional statement can be relied up or cannot be relied upon,” the lawyer said.

Reacting to this, Nikam said when a confessional statement is recorded before a magistrate, there are no policemen present, so there was no question of any police pressure.

Moreover, Nikam hinted that Kasab was being “prompted” by certain quarters to speak and behave in the way he was and the prosecution would disclose it at “an appropriate time”.

Earlier, in the morning, Kasab created a flutter in the Special Court when he said he was juvenile and his case should be tried before a juvenile court.

Kazmi, after interacting with Kasab briefly, informed the special court judge that his client was 17 and thus not an adult.

“I request the court to transfer the case to a competent juvenile court for trial,” Kazmi urged on behalf of Kasab.

Kazmi told the Special Court that his client had informed him that he was illiterate and is now aware of his birth date - according to which he was below 18 years of age on Nov 26, 2008.

Objecting to this, the special public prosecutor said that Kasab had given his age as 19 and 21 on three different occasions. So, he is a major and should be tried by the Special Court, Nikam urged.

Elaborating, Nikam said that during his interrogation, Kasab had mentioned his date of birth as Sep 13, 1987, which is also mentioned in the charge sheet. In his confession before an additional chief metropolitan magistrate, Kasab mentioned the same date and also in the register of the Arthur Road Central Jail where he is lodged.

The envelope containing Kasab’s confessional statement was opened before the Special Court here Friday morning when Kazmi said that his client “may retract the confession at a later stage”.

Rejecting Kasab’s plea, Special Judge Tahilyani said that from his physical appearance, the accused does not appear to be a minor.

However, at a later stage, if the court felt that he is a juvenile, necessary action would be initiated in the matter, Tahilyani ruled while disposing of the plea.

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