Indian Supreme Court upholds death sentence for Mumbai gunman

More than 160 people were killed in the coordinated attacks on Mumbai that lasted three days.

Story highlights

  • Court had the chance to appreciate all the evidence, prosecution lawyer says
  • Kasab faces the death penalty for his role in the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai
  • He still has the options of filing a court review and a clemency petition with the president
  • More than 160 people were killed in the coordinated attacks in 2008

The Indian Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence for Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the only surviving gunman from the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

A trial court sentenced Kasab, a Pakistani, to death in 2010 on charges of murder, conspiracy and waging war on India.

The High Court of Mumbai upheld his conviction and sentence in February last year. Now, the Supreme Court has done the same, rejecting his argument that he hadn't received a fair trial.

"The court has had a chance to appreciate the evidence completely," Gopal Subramaniam, a lawyer for the prosecution, said after the verdict. He noted that Kasab had been provided with state-appointed lawyers for his different court hearings.

With his appeal rejected by India's highest court, the options are running out for Kasab. He can still file a review motion with the Supreme Court. If that fails, he can submit a clemency petition to the president.

During the November 2008 assault on Mumbai, 10 heavily armed men attacked landmarks around the city, including the luxury Taj Mahal Palace and Tower and Oberoi-Trident hotels, the Victoria Terminus train station, and the Jewish cultural center, Chabad House.

More than 160 people were killed in the coordinated attacks that lasted three days.

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Indian forces killed nine of the suspects, but Kasab, who was photographed holding an assault weapon during the violence, survived and was arrested.

India blamed the siege on Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a Pakistani-based terror group allied with al Qaeda.

Indian authorities said Kasab was trained by the organization, which was banned in Pakistan in 2002 after an attack on the Indian parliament. The group has denied responsibility.

The Mumbai attacks destabilized peace talks between the Indian and Pakistani governments, which remain bitterly opposed over issues like the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In the subsequent years, the two nuclear-armed nations have resumed the high-level meetings and relations have improved.

In April, President Asif Ali Zardari met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi during a brief private trip. It was the first visit to India by a Pakistani head of state in seven years.

Indian sporting authorities also recently announced the resumption of bilateral cricket tournaments with Pakistan. The sport has often been used as a platform to ease relations.

But tensions remain close to the surface. This month, New Delhi alleged that "elements" in Pakistan were using social-networking sites to stir religious unrest in India amid ethnic clashes between Muslim migrants and native tribal groups in the northeastern state of Assam.

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