Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab (22) first said he was not guilty.
Later, he wanted to plead guilty.
And then, on December 18, 2009, he interrupted the special court’s proceedings and said: “The police arrested me 20 days before the [26/11] terror attacks. I was put in place of a similar looking attacker.”
According to the special court’s records, Kasab — the lone captured Pakistani Lashkar-e-Tayyeba operative who, along with nine others, attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008 — changed his stance five times during the 190-day long trial.
However, these flip-flops had no bearing on special judge M.L. Tahiliyani when he set out to decide Kasab’s fate on Monday.
Judge Tahiliyani told Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam and Kasab’s court-appointed lawyer K.C. Pawar that he had closely studied Kasab’s confession statement recorded by a magistrate against the corroborative evidence presented before the court and had not found anything to suggest that Kasab had not given the statement voluntarily.
“Considering the circumstances, the confession [of Kasab] is found to be voluntary,” the special court held.
Explaining his decision, Judge Tahiliyani said: “The magistrate had given him [Kasab] 72 hours to think about it [his willingness to record a confession]. The HC provides that the accused [who wants to confess before a magistrate] should be given 24 hours. The magistrate gave him much more time.”
On July 20, 2009, Kasab told the court he wanted to plead guilty. Over the next four days the court recorded his plea of guilt running into 34 pages.
Though several details were different from that in the confession statement, the trial continued.
On August 7, 2009, Kasab again said he wanted to plead guilty, but backtracked 30 minutes later.
The special court said while convicting Kasab, it had relied on his confession statement after it found corroborative evidence to support the claims made in the statement.
“What he has said in the confession statement is corroborated by witnesses. Evidence has been collected on the basis of what he said in the confession,” Judge Tahiliyani observed.
The court also took into account Kasab’s retraction of the confession statement and said it felt that it was done “for the sake of retraction”.
“I do not see any reason or circumstance for retracting the statement. It is a barred retraction,” the judge observed.