Monday, February 7, 2011

Verdict date set in Mumbai attacks gunman appeal

Mumbai attacks, Ajmal Kasab

MUMBAI: Two Indian judges will announce later this month whether the sole surviving gunman from the Mumbai attacks will have his death sentence confirmed, one of his lawyers said on Monday.
“Judgment has been posted for February 21,” Farhana Shah told AFP after an administrative hearing in the appeal of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab at the Bombay High Court.
Judges Ranjana Desai and R.V. More had been expected to give their decision on Monday on whether to back the death sentence for the Pakistani national over his part in the November 2008 attacks that killed 166 people.
They blamed the mass of paperwork in the high-profile case for the delay.
Under Indian law, death sentences have to be confirmed by the local state high court. The judges can uphold the sentence, reduce it, order a retrial or overturn the conviction, said Shah.
If the death sentence is upheld, there is a further right of appeal to the Supreme Court in New Delhi and as a last resort to India’s president.
Kasab’s lawyers have asked for a retrial, arguing that his trial lawyer was not given sufficient time to wade through the 11,000-page chargesheet before the case began. They also said evidence and witnesses were manipulated.
Kasab, 23, was convicted in May last year of waging war against India, murder, attempted murder and terrorism offences after he and an accomplice opened fire on and threw grenades at commuters at Mumbai’s main railway station.
A total of 52 people were killed in what was the bloodiest episode in the wave of attacks that also included three luxury hotels, a popular tourist restaurant and a Jewish centre.
India blames the banned, Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba for masterminding the attacks, which led to the suspension of fragile peace talks between the neighbours.
A decision is also expected at the hearing in two weeks’ time on a prosecution appeal against the acquittal of Kasab’s two Indian co-defendants, who were accused of making maps of potential targets for the attackers.

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