Ajmal Qasab, mumbai, mumbai india, mumbai terrorism, mumbai attack
Sebastian D’souza/AP/Mumbai Mirror
Ajmal Qasab in the Chatrapathi Sivaji
Terminal railway station in Mumbai,
India, November 26, 2008.

Suspect’s Confession Lends New Twist to Mumbai Attacks Case

July 20, 2009 02:30 PM
by Anita Gutierrez-Folch
The last surviving perpetrator of the attacks on Mumbai pleaded guilty after months of maintaining his innocence, leading some to question the validity of his confession.

Attacker’s Confession Met With Surprise, Confusion

Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, a 21-year-old Pakistani citizen and key suspect in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, in November 2008, has changed his original plea to guilty, “admitting his role in the killings,” the BBC reports. Qasab is allegedly the only surviving perpetrator of the November attacks, which left more than 170 people—including nine of the ten gunmen—dead. 

According to Al Jazeera, Qasab’s statement contained a detailed explanation of “his group's journey from Pakistan on a boat, their subsequent landing in Mumbai, and the rampage that followed.”

The reason behind this change after months of pleading innocence, however, remains unclear. Police reports stated that Qasab confessed his involvement in the attacks immediately after his arrest, but retracted soon after.

According to the BBC, Qasab “faces 86 charges, including waging war on India, murder and possessing explosives.” If the court accepts the validity of his confession, Qasab could face the death penalty.

Reactions: Was Qasab’s confession genuine?

"Everybody in the court was shocked the moment he said he accepts his crime,” Ujjwal Nikam, a public prosecutor, told Al Jazeera. “It was unexpected.''

After his initial confession, Qasab had consistently denied his participation in the attacks. According to Mumbai journalist Preeti Gupta, the change in Qasab statement was due to the recognition of his Pakistani citizenship. "[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,” Gupta suggested.

Senior supreme court lawyer Harish Salve, on the other hand, is not convinced that Qasab delivered his confession 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 told Al Jazeera.

Similarly, Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar from Pakistan explained to Indian television channel CNN-IBN that Qasab’s varying statements could undermine the credibility of his confession, at least in Pakistani courts. "This statement, I don't know how much one can value that in the court of law," Reuters quoted him as saying.

Background: Indian Government Faces Tough Questions, Criticism After Mumbai Attacks >

Later Developments: Pakistan Acknowledges Connection to Mumbai Attacks >

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