Mumbai attacks: Kasab gets the death penalty


- dEsPeraTe cRaNky -

Pakistani gunman Ajmal Amir Kasab was on Thursday sentenced to death for the Mumbai terror attacks by a special court, which said that keeping such a terrorist alive will be a "lingering danger" to the society and the Indian government.

The special anti-terror court of M L Tahaliyani pronounced capital punishment for the 22-year-old terrorist on four counts of murder, conspiracy to murder, waging war against the country and committing terrorist activities under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. 166 people were killed in the carnage.

Kasab was also awarded life imprisonment on five other counts including attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy and under the Explosive Substances Act.

"To be hanged by the neck till death," the judge said after each of the four counts for which he sent Kasab to the gallows.

"In the court's opinion, Kasab has no chance to reform. Keeping such a terrorist alive will be a lingering danger to the society and the Indian government," Tahaliyani said while pronouncing his verdict, three days after he convicted him for the massacre.

The judge cited the example of the Kandahar hijack case in which arrested terrorists were swapped for the passengers held hostage. "If Kasab is kept alive, this situation may occur again," he said.

The judge said Kasab had joined terror outfit LeT voluntarily and offered himself to be a "mujahideen"(holy warrior).

Kasab, who hails from Fardikot in Pakistan, broke down after hearing the sentence. As the judge was reading out the sentence, Kasab was seen sobbing. He asked for a glass of water during the pronouncement.

After the sentence was read out, Tahaliyani explained to him in Hindi that he had been given death penalty on four counts and whether he wanted to say anything. But the Pakistani gunman simply shook his head after which he was taken away by the police back to the Arthur Road jail.

The verdict came 17 months after Kasab and nine other Pakistani terrorists trained, armed and funded by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba let loose death and destruction on Mumbai on November 26, 2008.

Stating that Kasab was mentally prepared to attack India, the judge rejected defence lawyer K P Pawar's argument that he had acted on the directions of LeT founder Hafiz Sayeed.

Branding the terrorist as a "killing machine manufactured in Pakistan", special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had on Tuesday sought nothing less than death for Kasab, saying the case fell within "the rarest of rare" category.

The plea of Pawar, who while admitting that his client was "blinded by religion" sought leniency for the terrorist given his young age, failed to convince the judge.

Describing Kasab as "killing machine" and a "heartless monster", Nikam had argued, "such machines are manufactured in Pakistan and if he is not sent to the gallows he would turn into a blood thirsty wild animal.

"Kasab is a heartless monster who is a curse to the society...He not only enjoyed killing innocent people but also expressed anger while confessing before a Magistrate that he could not execute more," he had said in his arguments on the quantum of sentence for the convicted terrorist.

Pawar, however, pleaded that given his young age and no previous criminal record, Kasab be given a chance to be reformed and rehabilitated.

"The militancy in Kashmir and Godhra riots had an impact on the mind of young Kasab who was emotionally disturbed and blinded by religion", Pawar had said.

As per the law, the death penalty will have to be confirmed by the Bombay High Court. Kasab also has the right to move the high court against the trial court verdict. Even if the high court upholds the judgment, he can appeal to the Supreme Court. If the apex court too upholds the sentence, he has the option of filing a mercy petition before the President of India.