Thursday, August 6, 2009

3 sentenced to death for '03 Mumbai twin blasts

3 sentenced to death for '03 Mumbai twin blasts

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Mumbai: Six years after the twin blasts at Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar, which left 53 people dead, a special POTA Court in Mumbai has sentenced three convicted persons - Mohammed Hanif Sayed, his wife Fahimida and Ashrat Shafique Ansari - to death.
The prosecution said that this was the rarest of rare case. Prosecution had asked for a death sentence for all three convicts in the last hearing, pointing out the blasts were carried out with "exceptional cruelty". The prosecution also said that the twin blasts were a gruesome crime.
After the sentencing, Special Public Prosecutor for the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, Ujjwal Nikam said that 54 people lost their lives in the twin blasts.
Arguing for the death penalty, Nikam had said they intended to target foreign tourists who throng the Gateway of India and the famous Mahalaxmi Temple. However, since their vehicle developed a snag, the second blast took place in Zaveri Bazaar, the hub of the jewellery trade in the city.
"This is a significant judgement. It's because of these 'devils' that 54 persons lost their lives and another 244 were injured," Nikam, who led the prosecution case during the six-year trial, said.
He revealed that the three convicts have been sentenced under Indian penal Code Sections 302 and 307, and Explosives Substance Act.
"The conspiracy was hatched in Dubai and some Pakistani nationals were also involved. The bomb that was planted in Ghatkopar was of less intensity. That is why they planned to carry out blasts in Zaveri Bazaar and Gateway of India. There was also a conspiracy to carry out blasts at Mumba Devi Temple," said Nikam.
Ujjwal Nikam had said that the sentence was a "big blow to Lashakr-e-Toiba with the three accused being convicted". The three had been convicted under POTA section 3(5).
"They planned to put a bomb in a BEST bus on December 2, 2002 but it did not go off. They then put a bomb again in a BEST bus in July 2003 and two people were killed in the explosion. But their commaders allegedly told them to plan high-intensity blasts. That's how Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar blasts happened. It's the first case where a family - husband, wife and their daughter - were involved in the attack," Nikam had said.
A terror module of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit was allegedly involved in planting the powerful bombs in two cabs and triggering them by timers on August 25, 2003.
It was one of the most awaited judgement in a terrorist case after the Special TADA Court completed the March 2, 1993, serial blasts trial in 2007 which led to the conviction of 100 people, including Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, now a Samajwadi Party leader.
The court observed that "it was the murder charges levelled against the the three that led the court to give death penalty".
Defence lawyers -- Wahab Khan (representing Hanif), Sudesh Pasgola (Fahimida) and S. Kunjuraman (Ashrat) -- had said their clients were innocent.
"This is a baseless and meaningless judgement. There is not an iota of evidence against my client (Ashrat) to hold him guilty. I shall move the Bombay High Court," Kunjuraman said after the ruling came in.
Khan had argued that this was not "the rarest of rare cases" so it did not warrant the death penalty.
"My client had no personal grudge against any of the victims in the incidents, they were simply misguided and indoctrinated," Khan had said.
Defence had also argued that Fahmida should be given a lenient sentence as she followed the orders of her husband and that she had her children to look after but the argument was rejected by the court.

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