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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mumbai Police to use Truth Serum on Terrorist

Indian police interrogators are preparing to administer a "truth serum" on the sole Islamic militant captured during last week's terror attacks on Mumbai to settle once and for all the question of where he is from.

The mystery of the man dubbed "the baby-faced gunman" has weighed heavily on India's relations with Pakistan as the nuclear-armed neighbours dispute each other's accounts of his origin.

Police interrogators in Mumbai told The Times that they have "verified" that Azam Amir Kasab, who was captured after a shoot-out in a Mumbai railway station on Wednesday night, is from Faridkot, a small village in Pakistan's impoverished south Punjab region. They say that the nine dead gunmen are also Pakistani.

Disputing that account, President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan told CNN last night: "We have not been given any tangible proof to say that he is definitely a Pakistani. I very much doubt it … that he is a Pakistani."
He added: "The gunmen plus the planners, whoever they are, [are] stateless actors who have been holding hostage the whole world."

Proof that the militants were Pakistani would rapidly escalate the pressure on Mr Zardari's government to take action or risk a backlash from allies including the United States.

Police interrogators in Mumbai told The Times that they are poised to settle the matter of Kasab's nationality through the use of "narcoanalysis" – a controversial technique, banned in most democracies, where the subject is injected with a truth serum.

The method was widely used by Western intelligence agencies during the Cold War, before it emerged that the drugs used – typically the barbiturate sodium pentothal – may induce hallucinations, delusions and psychotic manifestations

Mumbai police said that their evidence of a Pakistan link includes hand grenades manufactured in the city of Rawalpindi, in Pakistan, and satellite phone calls traced back to the country.

Deven Bharti, a deputy police commissioner in Mumbai and one of the interrogators, told The Times that Kasab had shown no remorse for his part in a terror attack that had killed nearly 200 people.

"He is a 24-year-old boy with the eyes of a killer," Mr Bharti said.

"Nobody should doubt: he is a highly-trained murderer. He has told us he came to Mumbai from Pakistan to cause maximum casualties."

The photographs of the gunman firing indiscriminately at the city's largest train station, wearing combat trousers, trainers, a black T-shirt and a blue haversack stuffed with ammunition, have become the defining image of the assault on Mumbai, the deadliest terror strike unleashed in India in 15 years.

The police officer added that the interrogation had been carried out in Punjabi and that Kasab also spoke a little, rough Hindi. "He can barely speak a sentence in English, only names of weapons and such," Mr Bharti said.

"He resisted at first, but soon he began to talk. We have our techniques, but we don't disclose our tactics."

Mr Bharti said Kasab is being held in an undisclosed location: "All I can say is that it isn't five-star luxury."
The portrait revealed by police questioning is that of a village boy from a poor family who failed to complete primary school but went on to undertake months of military training at four or five militant camps in Pakistan, the last of which was near Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

He said that Kasab, together with the nine other gunmen killed during last week's attacks, had been chosen from a group of 24 that had gone through the same training regime.

The young men were prepared with violent footage from Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories. "All the traditional indoctrination methods you would associate with al-Qaeda or Lashka [Lashka-e-Taiba] have been used on these men," Mr Bharti said.

The police say that Kasab has given his home village as Faridkot, in the Okara district of Punjab. "We have verified, cross-checked this,"

Mr Bharti said. "We know his father owned a food stall there".

Mr Bhatri said that there was "no doubt" that Kasab will be subjected to "narcoanalysis", a technique which is common in serious crime investigations in India.

The drug, which will be administered through a drip, will lull Kasab into a trance-like state. Usually, a forensic psychologist then questions the prisoner.

Such methods are banned in the UK and the US, though some security officials suggest they should be adopted in anti-terrorist cases in the West.

Narco Analysis Test or Narco Test: This refers to the practice of administering barbiturates or certain other chemical substances, most often Pentothal Sodium, to lower a subject's inhibitions, in the hope that the subject will more freely share information and feelings. The term Narco Analysis was coined by Horseley. Narco analysis first reached the mainstream in 1922, when Robert House, a Texas obstetrician used the drug scopolamine on two prisoners. Since then narco testing has become largely discredited in most democratic states, including the United States and Britain. There is a vast body of literature calling into question its ability to yield legal truth. Additionally, narcoanalysis has serious legal and ethical implications.

A person is able to lie by using his imagination. In the Narco Analysis Test, the subject's inhibitions are lowered by interfering with his nervous system at the molecular level. In this state, it becomes difficult though not impossible for him to lie. In such sleep-like state efforts are made to obtain "probative truth" about the crime. Experts inject a subject with hypnotics like Sodium Pentothal or Sodium Amytal under the controlled circumstances of the laboratory. The dose is dependent on the person's sex, age, health and physical condition. The subject which is put in a state of hypnotism is not in a position to speak up on his own but can answer specific but simple questions after giving some suggestions. This type of test is not always admissible in the law courts. It states that subjects under a semi-conscious state do not have the mind set to properly answer any questions, while some other courts openly accept them as evidence. Studies have shown that it is possible to lie under narcoanalysis and its reliability as an investigative tool is questioned in most countries. A few democratic countries, India most notably, still continue to use narcoanalysis, but the result of such test can not be used as evidence in the court of law since it violates fundamental right against self-incrimination (Article 20(3) of the constitution of India). This has come under increasing criticism from the public and the media in that country. In India, the Narco Analysis test is done by a team comprising of an anesthesiologist, a psychiatrist, a clinical/forensic psychologist, an audio-videographer, and supporting nursing staff. The forensic psychologist will prepare the report about the revelations, which will be accompanied by a compact disc of audio-video recordings. The strength of the revelations, if necessary, is further verified by subjecting the person to polygraph and brain mapping tests.

The Test
Truth serum are drugs used in narco-analysis that cause a person to become uninhibited, but they do not guarantee the veracity of the subject’s statement. People who are under the influence of truth serums enter a hypnotic state and speak freely about anxieties or painful memories. The subject’s imagination is neutralised when semi-conscious, making it difficult for him/her to lie and his/her answers would be restricted to facts of which he/she is aware.

Although inhibitions are generally reduced, people under the influence of truth serums are still able to lie and even tend to fantasize because of his semiconscious state. It can be used for discovery, and to corroborate information with other facts.

Drugs administered
Sodium pentothal is an ultrashort-acting barbiturate, which sedates only for a few minutes. It slows down the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and inhibits brain and spinal cord activity. Sodium amytal and Scopolamine are other drugs used. Some benzodiazepines have been used as truth agents; most notably, the Soviet Union used temazepam for this purpose.

Legal position
Such tests generally don’t have legal validity as confessions made by a semi-conscious person are not admissible in court. The court may, however, grant limited admissibility after considering the circumstances under which the test was obtained. In the main, these tests can only assist police investigations.

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