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Death sentence for Karachi bombers

The wreckage of the bus at the blast site.  Two Pakistani passers-by were also killed.
The wreckage of the bus at the blast site. Two Pakistani passers-by were also killed.

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Court sentences three Islamic militants to death for plotting the May 2002 suicide car bomb attack in Karachi.
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has sentenced three Islamic militants to death for plotting the May 2002 suicide car bomb attack in Karachi that killed 11 French engineers.

Asif Zaheer, Bashir Ahmed, and Mohammed Sohail, all members of Harakat-ul Mujahedeen al Almi, an outlawed Islamic militant group, were on Monday convicted on charges of terrorism, use of explosives, and conspiracy to commit murder.

Sohail, was convicted in absentia while a fourth suspect, Adnan Qamar was acquitted.

A car packed with explosives was driven into a bus outside the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi on May 8 last year, killing the Frenchmen as well as three Pakistanis, including the bomber. Thirty-three others were wounded.

The French victims were part of a group of engineers constructing submarines for Pakistan as part of a joint naval project.

The attack in May was one of the deadliest on Westerners in Pakistan and was a blow to international confidence in the President Pervez Musharraf's government's ability to control terrorism within its own borders.

The four men accused of organizing the bombing were apprehended during anti-terror sweeps late last year.

"I am satisfied with the verdict. There was incriminating evidence against the two men and the judge took the right decision," prosecutor Maula Bakhsh Bhatti said.

The lawyer for the two men said they will appeal the conviction and sentence.

"It was a fit case for acquittal," defense lawyer M. R. Syed said. "There were flaws in the prosecution's witnesses."

The trial was heard before a judge and no jury.


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