India court sentences Mumbai gunman to death

[JURIST] An Indian court on Monday sentenced to death Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab [NDTV profile], the lone gunmen to survive the three-day siege of Mumbai [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in November 2008 that killed 166. Kasab was convicted [JURIST report] of murder and waging war against India on Monday for his role in the terrorist attack, which was allegedly coordinated by Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) [CFR backgrounder]. The prosecution had sought the death penalty [JURIST report], citing eight aggravating circumstances [TNN report] against Kasab. Death sentences in India are carried out by hanging. The sentence must now be ratified by the Mumbai High Court, and then Kasab will have the opportunity to appeal to the Supreme Court and seek leniency from the president.

Judge ML Tahiliyani, who was specially appointed [PTI report] in January 2009 to preside over the trial of three suspects detained after the attacks, heard closing arguments [JURIST report] in Kasab's case in March. In January, Tahiliyani denied [JURIST report] Kasab's request for an international trial. Kasab claimed that he would not receive a fair trial in India. In December, Kasab withdrew his confession [JURIST report], claiming he was tortured and framed by police. Kasab originally pleaded not guilty last year, but interrupted his trial to confess and change his plea to guilty [JURIST reports] in July. Tahiliyani continued the trial [JURIST report] despite Kasab's confession, ruling that it was incomplete but should be entered into the record. Kasab claimed that he is not the man [Times of India report] seen in a photograph holding an assault rifle in the train station. Kasab testified that he had been arrested by police days before the attacks for being Pakistani and that police shot him to make it look like he had been injured during the attacks.

 

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