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Kasab’s trial to continue
His guilty plea on basic offence accepted on record
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 23
The special court today accepted the guilty plea of Ajaml Amir alias Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist held during the 26/11 attacks, for his involvement in the basic offence on record and ordered the trial to continue.

Special Judge ML Tahilyani, hearing the case in the high security Arthur Road jail in central Mumbai, said the trial would continue as Kasab has confessed to the basic offence but not pleaded guilty to 86 charges slapped on him.

The judge told 22-year-old Kasab, “There were 86 charges framed against you. You have not pleaded guilty to all of them. You have confessed only to the basic offence. That is why the court has taken the decision to continue with the trial).”

On Monday, Kasab had pleaded guilty to his involvement in the attacks at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and other locations.

Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said Kasab’s confession had not been accepted since he had not divulged the complete truth about the conspiracy behind the terrorist strike.

“Accordingly, the court has ruled that the trial will continue as usual. So far, the prosecution has examined 134 witnesses in the case and we shall produce more witnesses before the court,” Nikam told mediapersons this afternoon. Earlier, before the start of proceedings, Abbas Kazmi, the lawyer representing Kasab, offered to withdraw from the case stating that the lone terrorist to survive the 26/11 attacks of the last year did not trust him sufficiently. “Sir, I feel I should withdraw at this stage. He (Kasab) does not take me into confidence and I will recuse myself,” Kazmi told Tahaliyani today soon after the court said that it would be taking Kasab’s admission of guilt on record and the trial would continue. The judge then explained to Kasab in Hindi that his lawyer has gained an impression that he had no confidence in him and hence wants to withdraw.

“Maine aise kuch nahin kaha hai (I have not said anything like that),” Kasab said. Following this the court directed Kasab to speak with his lawyer and clear any misunderstandings between them. “I have appointed you as Kasab’s lawyer and will not easily allow you to take this extreme step. I will give one chance to Kasab to talk to you and clear all doubts in your mind,” Tahaliyani told Kazmi.

“Kazmi will continue to represent Kasab,” the special public prosecutor said. Nikam said with the court accepting Kasab’s guilt plea on record today, his lawyer could have felt frustrated and so thought about retiring from the case. The prosecutor said the defence advocate’s claim that his client had not consulted with him prior to his dramatic admission of guilt before the court was incorrect.

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