India appeals court upholds death sentence for Mumbai gunman
India appeals court upholds death sentence for Mumbai gunman
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[JURIST] The Bombay High Court [official website] on Monday upheld [judgment, PDF] the conviction and death sentence of Pakistani national Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab [NDTV profile], the only surviving gunman of the three-day siege of Mumbai [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] that killed 166 in November 2008. The court also upheld the acquittals of two Indian citizens accused as accomplices because of insufficient evidence.The court said in its 1,208-page decision that the only mitigating factor was Kasab’s age, 24, but that it was overridden by the grave nature of the crime:

The brutality, perversity and cruelty exhibited by [Kasab] by committing multiple murders of innocent men, women, children, aged persons and policemen without provocation for a motive which has no moral justification makes this case a gravest case of extreme culpability. The conduct of [Kasab] shows that his mental age overrides his physical age. He has never shown any repentance, but has loudly proclaimed that he wants to [set an example] by his conduct.

After the announcement of the judgment, people cheered in the street [LAT report], lighting fireworks and chanting for Kasab’s death. Kasab can still appeal to India’s highest court, and, if that is unsuccessful, he can petition the government for clemency. Kasab will likely be hanged, but the appeals could delay his execution for years.

Kasab filed his appeal in June after being convicted [JURIST reports] in May for his role in the attack, which was allegedly coordinated by Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) [CFR backgrounder]. He was sentenced to death after the prosecution sought the death penalty [JURIST reports], citing eight aggravating circumstances. Judge ML Tahiliyani, specially appointed in January 2009 to preside over the trial of the three suspects detained after the attacks, heard closing arguments [JURIST report] in the case last March. In January 2010, Tahiliyani denied [JURIST report] Kasab’s request for an international trial after Kasab claimed that he would not receive a fair trial in India. In December 2009, Kasab withdrew his confession [JURIST report], claiming he was tortured and framed by police. Tahiliyani continued the trial [JURIST report] despite Kasab’s confession, ruling that it was incomplete but should be entered into the record.