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Mumbai gunman ready for gallows

THE lone surviving gunman in the Mumbai attacks said he is ready to go to the gallows and wants no mercy from the court for his role in one of India's worst terrorist acts, which left 166 people dead.

"Whatever I have done, I have done in this world. It would be better to be punished in this world. It would be better than God's punishment. That's why I have pleaded guilty," Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani, told the court yesterday.

On Monday, Kasab unexpectedly confessed to taking part in the three-day attack that began on November 26, leaving a trail of carnage across downtown Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment capital.

"If I am hanged for this, I am not bothered. I don't want any mercy from the court. I understand the implications of my accepting the crime," he said.

Kasab, 21, was responding to accusations by Chief Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam that he was trying to minimize his role in the attack to avoid the death penalty and protect his alleged co-conspirators in Pakistan. Nikam told the court that parts of his confession were inconsistent with evidence.

Judge M.L. Tahiliyani has yet to accept the confession, which has complicated the already onerous task of defending a man whose photograph showing him striding through Mumbai's main train station with a gun has become an emblem of the terrifying three days.

The confession, which describes in detail his links with a shadowy but well-organized group in Pakistan, also bolsters Indian accusations that Islamabad is not doing enough to clamp down on terrorist groups.

Kasab said he was not tortured or coerced into making the confession. The hearing resumes today.


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