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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Kasab gets death sentence on 4 counts, life on 5 counts

May 6, 2010, Mumbai

Ajmal Kasab, 22, broke down in court when the 26/11 trial court awarded him the death sentence on four counts on Thursday. He has also been given a life term on five counts. Kasab has been found guilty of murdering seven people, helping murder 159 others and waging war against India during a 62-hour siege beginning November 26, 2008.

While announcing the sentence, the judge said words could not describe the brutality of 26/11. "This man has lost the right of getting humanitarian benefit," he said, adding there was no option but the death penalty.

Tears rolled down Kasab's face as the sentence was announced. As he broke down, the judge asked that he be given a glass of water. But when he was asked if he had anything to say, Kasab mutely shook his head to say, no.

The death penalty will not be implemented immediately. Kasab has the option of appealing to higher courts, and can also file a mercy petition for the consideration of President Pratibha Patil.

The terrorist was pronounced guilty on Monday and the prosecution and defence ended their arguments on quantum of sentence on Tuesday. While the prosecution argued for the death sentence, Kasab's lawyer appealed for leniency on the grounds that he's just 22 years old.

The public prosecutor, Ujjwal Nikam, attacked Kasab for two hours, describing him as "worse than a wild beast... Kasab is a killing machine... and the orders for this machine came from Pakistan."

On both Monday and Tuesday, Kasab was dressed in a white kurta-pyjama, was unshaven, and kept his head bowed throughout Nikam's arguments. Kasab was found guilty on more than 80 of the 86 charges brought against him for planning and executing the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.
Nikam laid out eight arguments on why Kasab deserves to be hanged, among them, that the 26/11 attacks was meticulously planned and that policemen and defenceless civilians were "mercilessly butchered." The prosecutor also argued that Kasab wanted to inspire others to take part in fidayeen or suicide attacks.

As an example of why Kasab should get the death penalty, Nikam said that the terrorist had expressed disappointment that he landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) after rush hour on 26/11/2008. Kasab had anticipated a busier station, based on CDs he had been shown of CST before the attack, Nikam said. The prosecutor also said that in his confession to the Mumbai police, Kasab said that he was upset that he could not kill more people at the station. At CST, Kasab killed close to 60 people in an hour with his partner, Abu Ismail.

Photographs taken by newspaper photographers of Kasab, taken in action while firing at CST's passengers and shopkeepers, showed that "he enjoyed the acts of murder," said Nikam. The terrorist "was happy to see people in pain and anguish as a result of his firing," the prosecutor stressed.

Kasab's lawyer, KP Pawar, pleaded with the court to consider a life sentence instead. Kasab was only 21 when he participated in the attack against Mumbai, and he acted under the influence of terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), he pleaded.

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