MUMBAI, India – An Indian judge accepted the confession of the lone surviving gunman from the shooting attacks in Mumbai, but said Thursday the trial would proceed anyway.
The young Pakistani gunman, Ajmal Kasab, unexpectedly confessed Monday to taking part in the November attack that paralyzed India's financial capital and killed 166 people.
The court had delayed a decision on whether to accept his confession and guilty plea, with prosecutors arguing that his statement was incomplete and accusing Kasab of seeking clemency. In response, Kasab said he was willing to be hanged for his actions.
Judge M.L. Tahiliyani decided Thursday to accept Kasab's confession, but he ordered the trial to continue because the accused did not address all 86 charges against him.
"The trial will proceed," he said.
Kasab's confession linked the attack to a shadowy but well-organized group in Pakistan. The statement bolstered India's charges that terrorist groups across the border were behind the well-planned attack, and that Pakistan is not doing enough to clamp down on them.
After the judge made his ruling, defense lawyer Abbas Kazmi asked to be recused from the case saying that his client had no faith in him.
"If he has no confidence in me, there is no sense in me continuing in the case," he said.
The judge urged Kazmi to remain on the case and told the lawyer and defendant to discuss their relationship during a recess.
Chief Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had tried to get Kasab's confession thrown out, saying it was neither complete nor accurate.
Kasab admitted spraying gunfire into the crowd at Mumbai's main train station, and described in detail a network of training camps and safe houses across Pakistan, revealing the names of four men he said were his handlers.
He denied killing four Mumbai policemen whose deaths remain touchstones of grief and anger in India.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Islamabad was waiting for copies of the confession, but he said it would not impede the ongoing effort at dialogue between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
The court has issued arrest warrants for 22 Pakistanis accused of conspiring in the attack.