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Mumbai Gunman Trial Goes On Despite Confession

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Hi, Philip.

PHILIP REEVES: Hi.

INSKEEP: Remind us who this man is.

REEVES: He's been on trial for the last several months in a high security prison in Mumbai, where he's being held in solitary. And on Monday, all of a sudden, he changed his plea to guilty, surprising everyone, and provided a lengthy account of the attacks and how he got involved in them.

INSKEEP: Okay. So why is the judge deciding to continue the trial?

REEVES: Well, Kasab faces 86 charges, including murder and waging war on India - which both, by the way, carry the death penalty if proven. The judge felt his guilty plea was incomplete because it didn't address many of those charges.

INSKEEP: Any other reason that the judge would want the trial to go on here?

REEVES: The prosecution also suspects him of pleading guilty to protect some alleged co-conspirators in Pakistan. Pre-trial proceedings in Pakistan have begun against five people there, including the alleged mastermind of the attacks, and prosecutors think that Kasab could be trying to stop further testimony coming out in his trial in Mumbai that might be sent to Pakistan and used in the prosecution of the five in Pakistan.

INSKEEP: And now you're beginning to hint at the larger implications of this case, because even as this trial is going on, India and Pakistan are trying to get some kind of a peace dialogue going after years of acrimony and past wars. How closely are Indians following this trial, then?

REEVES: But there are others who argue that everyone is entitled to a trial, no matter how overwhelming the evidence appears to be, and that this is showing India to be a democracy where the judiciary actually functions.

INSKEEP: Philip, when you talk to Indians on the street or when you read their commentaries in the media, do people in India feel that a sufficient number of conspirators here have either been killed or caught?

REEVES: So, yeah, there's a feeling that more people than simply Kasab were involved in this, and that they so far have gone unpunished. And India, which was obviously outraged by the Mumbai attacks, feels strongly that they should be caught and prosecuted and punished.

INSKEEP: NPR's Philip Reeves is in India covering the trial of a terrorism suspect who has confessed but remains on trial. Philip, thanks very much.

REEVES: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.

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