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MUMBAI, India — The trial of the lone surviving gunman in the Mumbai attacks will continue despite his surprise admission of guilt, a judge ruled July 23, ensuring that the young Pakistani will be prosecuted for all 86 charges, including murder and conspiracy to wage war against India.
Three days earlier, Ajmal Kasab, 21, unexpectedly confessed to taking part in the November attack that paralysed India's financial capital and killed 166 people.
The court had delayed a decision on whether to accept his confession and guilty plea, with prosecutors arguing that his statement was incomplete and accusing Kasab of seeking to avoid the death penalty. In response, Kasab said he was willing to be hanged for his actions.
Judge ML Tahiliyani decided to accept Kasab's confession as evidence, but ordered the trial to continue because the accused did not address all the charges against him.
Kasab admitted spraying gunfire into the crowd at Mumbai's main train station, but denied killing four Mumbai policemen whose deaths remain touchstones of grief and anger in India.
The gunman also linked the attack to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a militant outfit formed in the 1980s.
Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam was pleased with the judge's decision, saying his position had been "vindicated."
He said he wants to wrap up proceedings in a month, and plans to call FBI witnesses to help establish why the attacks targeted Mumbai and foreigners, and expose the infrastructure of LeT.
Tensions over the past few weeks between Kasab and his attorney, Abbas Kazmi, remained high, with the lawyer asking to be excused from the case after the morning session, saying his client had no faith in him. "If he has no confidence in me, there is no sense in me continuing in the case," he said.
The judge asked Kazmi to stay because of his extensive knowledge of the case, and after consulting with Kasab during the lunch break, he agreed to stay on the case.