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India court sentences two to death in 1993 Mumbai blasts case

[JURIST] An administrative court under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA court) [text] in Mumbai on Thursday sentenced [Reuters report] Feroz Abdul Rashid Khan and Taher Merchant to death and Abu Salem and Karimullah Khan to life imprisonment for their involvement in the 1993 Mumbai blasts [BBC backgrounder] that killed 300 individuals and injured hundreds more. A fifth accused individual, Riyaz Siddiqui, was sentenced to 10 years in jail. This development follows the conviction of six individuals [JURIST report] involved in the case in June, one of whom, Mustafa Dossa, died later the same month. Abu Salem had fled to Portugal sometime after the blasts, but was extradited in 2005 after a protracted legal battle between the India and Portugal governments [Indian Express archive]. The prime accused conspirator in the blast, Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, but Pakistan has rejected such claims. Another key conspirator, Yakub Memon, was sentenced to death by the TADA court in 2007, and hanged in July 2015. Tiger Memon and 33 other individuals believed to be involved in the blasts are still missing. TADA court prosecutor Ujwal Nikam called [LiveMint report] the verdict "historic" adding:

the evidence we placed before the court in the 1993 blasts case can now be used in the cases against the main accused Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon who are absconding. In Abu Salem’s case, we could not ask for death penalty to respect the undertaking we had given to the Portugal government at the time of his extradition saying he would not be executed.
Mumbai has been dealing with the aftermath of the 1993 bombings and the subsequent attacks in 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2011 for almost a quarter of a century. Earlier this year Pakistan authorities placed militant leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed under house arrest [JURIST report] for his connection to the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Saeed has been accused of orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai attacks [CNN backgrounder]. In 2009 three individuals who were convicted of the 2003 bombings were sentenced to death [JURIST report]. Later that year the trial of the only gunmen to have survived the 2008 mass shooting at a hotel continued even though the man confessed his guilt [JURIST report] in the midst of trial proceedings. The government responded to the slew of terrorist bombings by reconsidering [JURIST report] an anti-terror law that had been previously repealed and by creating special courts like the one involved with TADA to speed up the judicial process [JURIST report].

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