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Death sentence upheld for Ajmal Kasab

21 February, 2011

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MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court Monday confirmed death sentence of Ajmal Kasab who watched the proceedings via a video link and did not react after the judges delivered the verdict.

The court was to give its verdict in the appeal of the sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks against his conviction and death sentence.

Kasab, now 23, was convicted and sentenced to death last May for his part in the wave of attacks on India`s financial capital by 10 militants which killed 166 people and injured more than 300 others.

State prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said on Sunday that he was "very confident" that the death sentence would be upheld.

One of Kasab`s lawyers, Farhana Shah, added: "Inshallah (God willing), we hope for the best but it`s up to the discretion of the honourable court."

Kasab was found guilty of a string of offences including waging war against India, murder, attempted murder and terrorist acts after a high-profile trial at a maximum security prison court in Mumbai.

The appeal, which began last October, saw Kasab`s legal team ask for a retrial, arguing that his trial lawyer was not given sufficient time to wade through the 11,000-page charge sheet before the case began.

They also claimed that prosecution evidence and witnesses were manipulated.

Under Indian law, death sentence cases have to be referred to the local state high court. The judges can uphold the sentence, reduce it, order a retrial or overturn the conviction.

If a death sentence is upheld in the high court, there is a further right of appeal to the Supreme Court in New Delhi and as a last resort to India`s president for clemency.

The court upheld the acquittal of two Indians Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin. The state had appealed against the acquittal of the pair who was accused of providing hand-drawn maps of potential targets to the gunmen.

The trial judge rejected the prosecution evidence against them as flimsy.

Kasab has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest in a shoot-out with police just hours after the attacks began. He has not attended the appeal for security reasons but has been able to follow proceedings via video link.

He was found to have been one of the two gunmen responsible for the bloodiest episode in the three-day attacks, when 52 people were killed at Mumbai`s main railway station on November 26, 2008.

Three luxury hotels, a popular tourist restaurant and a Jewish centre were also attacked.

End.

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