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Mumbai terror attack suspect withdraws confession

[JURIST] Suspected Mumbai terror attack [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] gunman Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab [NDTV profile] withdrew his confession in an Indian court Friday, claiming he was tortured and framed by police. Kasab originally pleaded not guilty in May, but interrupted his trial in July to confess and change his plea to guilty [JURIST reports]. Presiding Judge Judge ML Tahilyani continued the trial [JURIST report] despite Kasab's confession, ruling that it was incomplete but should be entered into the record. On Friday, Kasab claimed that he is not the man [Times of India report] seen in a photograph holding an assault rifle in the train station. Kasab testified that he had been arrested by police days before the attacks for being Pakistani and that police shot him to make it look like he had been injured during the attacks. He also claimed to have met David Headley, the Chicago man charged [JURIST report] last week in connection with the attacks, but only after the attacks when Headley allegedly came to question Kasab in the company of three FBI agents. A verdict is expected early next year, and, if convicted, Kasab could face the death penalty.

Last month, Tahilyani removed Kasab's defense lawyer Abbas Kazmi [Times of India profile] after finding that Kazmi lied when he denied being informed of the Special Public Prosecutor's intent to examine 340 more witnesses of the attack. Kazmi, who was replaced by his assistant, was not the first defense lawyer to be removed from the high profile case. Advocate Anjali Waghmare was removed [JURIST report] in April for ethical violations after agreeing to represent both the accused and a victim of the attack. Kasab faces 86 charges [Reuters backgrounder], including waging war on India and murder, for his role in the November 2008 attacks that claimed 166 lives.

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