Wednesday, 29 August 2012

26/11 Mumbai terror attacks: Supreme Court upholds death sentence for Ajmal Kasab

26/11 Mumbai terror attacks: Supreme Court upholds death sentence for Ajmal Kasab
Clean Media Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Aug 29 (CMC) The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the plea of Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks case and upheld the death penalty for the killer.

The Bombay high court had upheld the trial court's verdict to award death sentence to Kasab, the lone surviving gunman who was part of the 10-member fidayeen team that attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008.

A bench of justices Aftab Alam and C K Prasad dismissed the plea of 25-year-old Kasab challenging his conviction and death sentence confirmed by the Bombay high court.

The bench rejected his contention that he was not given a free and fair trial in the case. The bench also observed that the failure of government to provide him an advocate at the pre-trial stage did not vitiate trial court proceedings against him.

It also held that the confessional statement given by Kasab, which he retracted during trial, was very much voluntary except a very small portion.

Kasab was convicted of criminal conspiracy, waging war against the nation, Section 302 of IPC (murder) and terror related provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The HC had agreed with the trial court that the case against Kasab fell in the rarest of rare category and upheld the decision to award death penalty to the Pakistani terrorist.

After receiving his petition from the high-security Arthur Road prison challenging the HC judgment, the Supreme Court in July last year had called for trial court records and appointed senior advocate Raju Ramachandran and advocate Gaurav Agrawal as amicus curiae to assist in preparing Kasab's defence in compliance with requirements of fair trial.

The state had engaged senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam and senior prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam to see that no stone was left unturned in getting the capital sentence kept intact by the apex court.

The trial court had also found Kasab guilty on 19 counts under IPC, Arms Act, Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act, Foreigners Act, Passport Act and Railway Act.

Kasab and his nine fellow jihadis had attacked CST railway station, Cama Hospital, Vinoli Chaupati junction, Oberoi Hotel, Taj Hotel, Nariman House and Leopold Cafe, resulting in killing of 166 people and injuring 238 others.

While Kasab was captured alive, the other terrorists in his group were killed by security forces during the counter-terror operations.

The apex court also upheld the acquittal of two Indians, who were alleged to be co-conspirators in the Mumbai terror attack case.

The trial court and Bombay high court had also given a clean chit to Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed in the case.

The bench held that evidence showed that the conspiracy and planning of the 26/11 carnage was hatched in Pakistan.

Reacting to the verdict, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who was appointed by the apex court as amicus curiae to defend Kasab, said, "I bow down to the apex court verdict."

The bench had reserved its verdict on April 25 after a marathon hearing, spanning over two-and-a-half months of arguments by the prosecution and defence counsel in the case.

Kasab, during arguments in the apex court, had contended that he was not given a free and fair trial and that he was not part of any larger conspiracy for waging war against India.

He had told the bench that his right against self-incrimination as well as his right to get himself adequately represented by a counsel to defend himself in the case had been violated during the trial.

The apex court had stayed Kasab's death sentence on October 10, last year.

In the special leave petition (SLP) against the Bombay High Court judgement, which confirmed his death sentence, Kasab had claimed he was brainwashed like a "robot" into committing the crime in the name of "God" and pleaded that he did not deserve the death penalty keeping in view his young age.

Kasab, who is lodged in Arthur Road Prison in Mumbai, had filed the SLP through the jail authorities.

He was sentenced to death by a special anti-terror court on May 6, 2010.

The Bombay high court had upheld on February 21 last year the trial court's order of death sentence to the Pakistani terrorist for the "brutal and diabolical" attacks aimed at "destabilizing" the government here.

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