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Supreme court upholds death sentence to Kasab - 26th November Mumbai terror attack case

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the plea of Mohamad Ajmal Amir Kasab in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks case and upheld the sentence of death penalty awarded by the Bombay high court.

Kasab and his nine fellow jihadis had attacked CST railway station, Cama Hospital, Vinoli Chaupati junction, Oberoi Hotel, Taj Hotel, Nariman House and Leopold cafe in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 resulting in killing of 166 people and injuring 238 others.

A two-judge bench of the apex court pronounced the judgement at 10.30am. The bench held him guilty, first and foremost, of waging war against the country in the Mumbai terror attack case and said it was left with no option but to uphold the death sentence.

A bench of justices Aftab Alam and C K Prasad dismissed 25-year-old Kasab's plea against his conviction and death sentence confirmed by the Bombay high court, saying he was given free and fair trial in the case.

"Kasab's confessional statement was very much voluntary except a very small portion," the bench held.

It also dismissed Kasab's contention that the trial was not fair because the government did not provide him advocate during the time when he was arrested and put on trial.

"If lawyers are not provided at the commencement of trial, then the trial is vitiated. But the trial is not vitiated if a lawyer is not provided at pre-trial stage," the bench said.

The apex court said the trial court had made repeated attempts o provide Kasab with a lawyer but he had spurned the offer initially and said he did not want to accept Indian lawyers.

The judges said that in the totality of facts, evidences and circumstances the court had no option but to impose death sentence on Kasab.

The bench also observed that going by the evidence, it was clear that the conspiracy and planning of the 26/11 attack was hatched in Pakistan.

"We are more than certain that conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan," the bench said.

Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who defended Kasab in the apex court as amicus curiae, said he "bows down" to the apex court verdict, which upheld his death sentence.

"I bow to the verdict of the court.... I took it (the opportunity to defend Kasab) as a sacred duty and I performed it to the best of my ability," said Ramachandran, who was appointed amicus by the apex court.

Former Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, who had appeared for the Maharashtra government, also welcomed the verdict saying it is "a victory of justice and the Constitution of the country."

Earlier, the Bombay high court had upheld the trial court's verdict to award death sentence to Kasab, the lone surviving gunman who was part of the 10-member fidayeen team that attacked Mumbai.

Kasab was convicted of criminal conspiracy, waging war against the nation, Section 302 of IPC (murder) and terror related provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The HC had agreed with the trial court that the case against Kasab fell in the rarest of rare category and upheld the decision to award death penalty to the Pakistani.

After the Supreme Court's verdict, Kasab is left with an option of filing review petition in the apex court.

Kasab along with nine other Pakistani terrorists had landed in south Mumbai on November 26, 2008 night after travelling from Karachi by sea and had gone on a shooting spree at various city landmarks.

While Kasab was the lone terrorist captured alive, the other terrorists in his group were killed by security forces during the counter-terror operations.

The apex court also upheld the acquittal of Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, the two alleged Indian conspirators in the Mumbai terror attack case.

The trial court and the Bombay High Court had also given clean chit to both of them in the case.

The bench had reserved its verdict on April 25 after a marathon hearing, spanning over two-and-a-half months of arguments by the prosecution and defence counsel in the case.

Kasab, during arguments in the apex court, had contended that he was not given a free and fair trial and that he was not part of any larger conspiracy for waging war against India.

He had said his right against self-incrimination as well as that to get himself adequately represented by a counsel to defend himself in the case had been violated during the trial. The apex court had stayed Kasab's death sentence on October 10, last year.

Kasab, in his special leave petition (SLP) filed through the jail authorities against the Bombay High Court's February 21, 2011 judgement, which had confirmed his death sentence, had claimed he was brainwashed like a "robot" into committing the crime in the name of "God" and pleaded that he did not deserve the death penalty keeping in view his young age.

Kasab, who is lodged in Arthur Road Prison in Mumbai, was sentenced to death by a special anti-terror court on May 6, 2010.

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