Mumbai: The lone surviving gunman from last year’s Mumbai attacks made a surprise guilty plea on Monday, admitting to a role in the three-day rampage that killed at least 183 and raised tensions between India and Pakistan.
Pakistani citizen Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, 21, had been charged with 86 separate offences including murder and waging war against India for his role in the 26-28 November assault.
“He was recording his confession in court,” the police officer overseeing the probe into the attacks said.
“Yes, he has pleaded guilty in court today (Monday),” senior police officer Rakesh Maria said. “He has confessed to his role and the fact that he was involved in the attacks that killed so many people during the attacks, the planning and the execution.”
Admission of guilt: A file photo of Kasab. He has been charged with 86 separate offences, including murder and waging war against India, for his role in the 26-28 November assault in Mumbai. Sebastian D’souza / AP
Kasab, who had pleaded not guilty in May, now faces a possible death sentence.
The only one of the 10 gunmen captured alive during the coordinated attacks on targets including two luxury hotels, a Jewish centre and a railway station, Kasab is among 38 charged in the attacks. India says most of the masterminds are in Pakistan.
Kasab, who says he is from Faridkot in Pakistan, became the physical embodiment of India’s contention that its neighbouring rival had let its soil be used to plan and launch the attacks. That led New Delhi to break off five-year peace talks with Pakistan.
Closed-circuit video footage caught during the siege showed Kasab carrying an AK-47 assault rifle in Mumbai’s main railway station.
During a routine interrogation of witnesses on Monday, Kasab got up and told the court: “I have something to say. I want to confess,” prosecution lawyer Ujjwal Nikam told reporters. “Today we are very surprised that abruptly Kasab has taken this stand that he would like to confess his guilt,” Nikam said. “In fact I was personally very shocked.”
Pakistan’s foreign ministry had no immediate comment, but defence minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar told CNN-IBN television that it would “help Pakistan to get hold of all those people who are involved in these criminal activities”.
But he said the fact Kasab had given one statement earlier and changed it could cause his credibility to come into question if his testimony is used in Pakistani judicial probes into the case.
“I don’t think that you are in a position to crack down on people against the evidence provided by one person, somebody who is behind bars. This statement, I don’t know how much one can value that in the court of law,” Mukhtar said.
Bappa Majumdar, Arshad Mohammed and Matthias Williams in New Delhi contributed to this story.