India’s Supreme Court yesterday confirmed the death sentence handed down to Mohammed Kasab, the lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed.
Pakistan-born Kasab, one of 10 gunmen who laid siege to India’s financial capital in attacks that lasted nearly three days, had appealed against the sentence, claiming that he had not received a fair trial.
“We are left with no option but to award death penalty,” the two judges said in a court order. “The primary and foremost offense committed by Kasab is waging war against the government of India.”
Kasab, who is currently held in a maximum-security prison in Mumbai, was found guilty on charges including waging war against India, murder and terrorist acts, and was sentenced to death in May 2010.
After losing his Supreme Court petition, Kasab is expected to lodge a final appeal for clemency with new Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, who has another 11 cases to consider.
“The best possible points were put forward dispassionately on behalf of the accused,” state prosecutor Gopal Subramanium told reporters. “They have been considered and the court ultimately dismissed the appeal.”
India blames the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) militant organization for training, equipping and financing the gunmen with support from “elements” in the Pakistan military.
Kasab initially pleaded not guilty, but later confessed, admitting he was one of the gunmen sent by the LET.
At his trial, the prosecution produced fingerprint, DNA, eyewitness and TV footage evidence showing him opening fire and throwing grenades at Mumbai’s main railway station in the bloodiest episode of the attacks.
“I was denied a fair trial,” Kasab said in a statement when his appeal hearing began in January. “I may be guilty of killing people and carrying out a terrorist act, but I am not guilty of waging war against the state.”