The High Court in Mumbai has upheld the death sentence awarded to Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab for the 26/11 attacks in the city. Two co-accused got off the hook. He has now a month to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Gunman Ajmal Amir Kasab (shown here) had his death penalty confirmed by Mumbai's High Court
The death sentence was confirmed for Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani national and one of ten gunmen who carried out the coordinated attacks on key landmarks in India's financial capital Mumbai in 2008.
The High Court judge calmly told Kasab, clad in a white top and sporting a grin, through video conferencing of his sentence.
Teams of armed gunmen stormed hotels, a restaurant, hospitals and a crowded train station in coordinated attacks across India's financial capital
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who has been associated with the case right from the beginning, termed it a triumph of justice. "We argued in the High Court that Kasab is a person who has committed a crime of the rarest of rare because after opening indiscriminate firing at CST station, he was enjoying the killing of the people and he was disappointed that the crowd was not larger." Nikam added, "That shows the depravity on the part of Kasab. We further pointed out in the High Court that Kasab hadn't shown any repentance."
"Tribute to our legal system"
In May last year, Kasab was found guilty on more than 80 charges, including murder and waging war on India, and was sentenced to death by hanging by an Indian court but that sentence needed approval from the High Court.
A total of 166 people were killed in the havoc let loose by the terrorists during the 60-hour Mumbai terror attack. While Kasab was the sole gunman caught alive, his nine accomplices were killed in the fight with security forces.
Terrorist gunmen attacked seven sites in Mumbai in 2008, killing over 160 people
Hailing the verdict, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Kasab's trial had raised the prestige of the Indian judiciary and welcomed the judgement upholding his death sentence. "This is a tribute to our legal system. We should allow our legal system to deal with the case in the manner every other case is dealt with."
Kasab: "trial unfair!"
Eknath Ombale, the brother of Tukaram, an assistant sub-inspector who was killed trying to arrest Kasab on the night of November 26, 2008 said Kasab must hang soon, "otherwise there is no point in pronouncing the death sentence. It must be acted upon fast. And as I have pointed out earlier, if the government does not execute him soon, then I am requesting Kasab be handed to us."
Public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, center, says Kasab showed no repentance
During arguments in the High Court, Kasab pleaded that his trial was "unfair" and demanded a fresh trial contending that material evidence was suppressed and norms were not followed regarding his defense. However, his plea was rejected.
Kasab's government-appointed lawyer, Farhana Shah, declared she would recommend to him to appeal to the Supreme Court against the death sentence.
If the Supreme Court upholds the death penalty, Kasab can file a mercy petition before the President.
Pakistan has accepted that the attacks were plotted there and has put on trial seven suspects linked to the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Author: Murali Krishnan
Editor: Sarah Berning