India’s top court upheld the death sentence given to the Pakistani gunman convicted of waging war during the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks that killed 166 people.
After 10 weeks of appeal hearings, a two-judge Supreme Court panel led by Aftab Alam rejected defense arguments that Mohammed Ajmal Kasab had been denied a free and fair trial, ruling that the court had “no other option except to award the death penalty.”
Pakistani militants armed with assault weapons and grenades stormed two luxury hotels, the city’s main railway station, a cafe and a Jewish center in a 60-hour siege four years ago. Kasab, the only attacker caught alive, was sentenced to hang by a Mumbai court in 2010. The other nine militants were killed by Indian police.
The November 2008 strike shattered a five-year peace process between the arch rivals, with talks resuming only in February last year. Indian officials say the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group plotted the attack.
After initial denials, Pakistan acknowledged the Mumbai raid was planned on its soil and began a trial of some Lashkar members. India has accused Pakistan of being half-hearted in its pursuit of the perpetrators.
Advocate Raju Ramachandran, appointed by the court to defend Kasab, argued his client was denied legal representation after his arrest, contravening his rights under the Indian constitution. If he had been advised, Kasab would not have confessed to his role in the attack on India’s financial capital, Ramachandran said.
Kasab, who is being held in Mumbai’s maximum-security Arthur Road jail, was not present in court. Kasab can now seek a top court review of the case and appeal to President Pranab Mukherjee for clemency.
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