India: Three Death Sentences over 2003 Mumbai Blasts
A Mumbai court handed down a death sentence for three Indians found guilty of conspiring with a Pakistan-based militant group to carry out serial blasts in Mumbai in 2003.
The blasts were blamed on Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
New Delhi says the same group was also responsible for attacks in Mumbai last November that killed 16 people and raised tensions between India and Pakistan.
A special Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) sentenced to death Ashrat Ansari, Mohammad Hanif and his wife, Fehmida.
The three were found guilty of conspiring with the LeT in the two blasts in Mumbai in August 2003 at a jewelry market and a popular tourist spot that also wounded 200 people.
[Ujjwal Nikam, Public Prosecutor]:
„The court has sentenced all the accused for death penalty under section 302 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as for causing the death of 54 persons under 3(2) of POTA act as well as under the section 120 (b) of IPC. This decision is very important and it would give a strong signal to everyone who would like indulge into such types of illegal activities and costing the lives of the innocent persons.“
Meanwhile, the defense attorney says they were prepared for this judgment and will file an appeal to the high court within a week.
[S Kunjuraman, Defense Attorney]:
„Right from the sentence we knew that such a judgement of this sort would be pronounced so we were ready for the appeal. And we will strongly appeal in the high court.”
The sentencing on Thursday by a special court comes days after Pakistan’s Supreme Court adjourned an appeal hearing to decide whether to re-arrest LeTfounder Hafiz Saeed.
Saeed was held after the November Mumbai attacks.