Mumbai: Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving 26/11 terrorist, on Wednesday said that he has confessed to his crime not under any pressure and that he was not trying to get away with a lighter sentence.
Hang me if need be, Kasab told the Special Court, denying he had made the confession to his role in the ghastly terror strikes in Mumbai last November to seek leniency in the impending punishment.
Defence lawyer Abbas Kazmi had claimed that his client was being tortured and that he made the confession on Monday (July 20) under pressure. However, his claim fell flat today when Kasab made it clear that he wasn’t under any pressure.
On the other hand, the Prosecution stressed that Kasab was not revealing the truth and that it is his ploy to seek leniency in punishment and hide facts about the bigger conspiracy behind the attacks.
As soon as the proceedings began today, Special Public Prosecutor Ujwal Nikam requested the court to know from Kasab’s lawyer whether his client was aware of the ramifications of his confession.
When Special Judge ML Tahilyani quizzed Kasab’s lawyer on the issue, Kazmi claimed that his client was pressurised to make the statement and that he was ill treated. He also requested that if the court rejects his confession then it should not be used by the prosecution later.
The judge then turned to Kasab and asked him whether what his lawyer was saying is true. Kasab replied: “I have not been ill-treated; I have not said anything to my lawyer.”
“I have not confessed under pressure and I have not done it to get leniency in punishment. Hang me if need be,” Kasab told a stunned court.
“I am admitting because all the Pakistani accomplices have been arrested there and because the government there has accepted that I am a Pakistani,” he added.
Nikam however maintained that Kasab was only admitting to slip through with a lighter sentence as he has only admitted to his role in the CST attacks and not in the killing of police officers, including Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare.
“He has 86 charges against him, but he has only admitted to the CST incident. He is trying to take minimum responsibility,” Nikam told the court.
Nikam further stated that it seems Kasab was also trying to shield his LeT handlers based in Pakistan from investigations.
Nikam also pointed out that today’s statement is in clear deviation to what he had said before the magistrate as then Kasab had said that he was confessing so that his case is taken as a lesson to others who take the terror path.
The court had on Tuesday adjourned the hearing in the case after the prosecution sought time to file its reply on Kasab`s confession.
Kasab`s lawyer had said that his client`s admissions could not be treated as confession to the crime.
He however said today that he had told the court if it wants to accept the confession, then it should not delay it.
"Mujhe mera gunha kabool hai (I plead guilty to my crime)," Kasab had confessed before the court on Monday.
Revealing details of the attacks before the judge on Monday and Tuesday, Kasab had said that he and his slain partner Abu Ismail were directed to start firing indiscriminately at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), take hostages and attack those policemen who tried to rescue the hostages.
He confessed that he came along with nine other terrorists in a boat from Karachi.
Kasab also owned up for his involvement in the 26/11 terror attacks at the CST and at Cama Hospital.
He named Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative and alleged mastermind Zakir-ur-Rehman Lakhvi a key conspirator, saying he was instructed to conduct a fidayeen (suicide) attack in Mumbai.
Until now, over 133 of the total 150 witnesses have been examined in the different cases of the 26/11 attacks filed against Kasab.
Kasab has been charged with murder, conspiracy and waging war against India along with other crimes.
Kasab is the only attacker captured alive by police and is currently in custody. He was captured on CCTV during his attacks at the CST along with another terrorist, Ismail Khan.
The Government of Pakistan initially denied that Kasab was from Pakistan, but in January 2009, it officially accepted that he was a Pakistani citizen.
Kasab`s confession came two days after the Pakistan government filed a chargesheet against five 26/11 prime accused suspects.