Sole surviving gunman from India's Mumbai terror attacks expected to receive death penalty as two other citizens are cleared
© Sebastian D'souza/AP
Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab has been convicted over the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008 in India. But was he really the only surviving terrorist?
The sole surviving gunman from the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008 was today convicted of murder and waging war against India.
Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, a Pakistani citizen, is due to be sentenced in the next couple of days. He is expected to receive the death penalty, which in India means hanging.
The court accepted the prosecution contention that the plot was hatched in Pakistan. Speaking before the verdict was announced, prosecutor Ujwal Nikam said there was irrefutable evidence that members of the Pakistani military were involved, describing it as a "classic case of state sponsored terrorism".
Once Kasab has been sentenced the case - which has been heard by a special court sitting in Mumbai's Arthur Road jail - must go to the high court for ratification. Kasab can then appeal to India's supreme court and if that is unsuccessful, he can appeal to the president for mercy.
Kasab was one of 10 gunmen who travelled by from Pakistan to Mumbai, landing on 26 November 2008 and unleashing three days of terror on the city, killing 166 people as they attacked the main railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish centre. The other nine gunmen were killed.
Families of the victims today welcomed the verdict but expressed concern that the legal process could be dragged out for years. Although the trial was concluded in an unusually swift 11 months, the Indian legal system is notoriously protracted.
The widow of anti-terrorism police chief Hemant Karkare, who was shot dead as he tried to confront the gunmen, said Kasab should be executed without delay.
"He should not be given the chance to go to the supreme court. He should be punished immediately," said Kavita Karkare.
Other relatives vented their anger on Pakistan, expressing concern that the country remains a haven for terrorist training camps.
Philanthropist Sevanti Parekh, who lost his son Sunil and daughter-in-law Reshma in the attacks, said Kasab was a pawn in a bigger game and urged the Indian government to destroy the training camps.
"Our country should destroy those camps. They [those in the camps] are being turned into animals, they don't know what they are doing, they are just brainwashed. We are civilised people but we are dealing with uncivilised people."
Kasab, who faced a total of 86 charges, was brought to the courtroom for the verdict through a short tunnel from his cell.
That verdict was never really in doubt, although Kasab repeatedly changed his story during the course of the trial, claiming at one point to have travelled to Mumbai 20 days before the attacks to try to break into the Bollywood movie business.
But there was a surprise when two Indian citizens, Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Shaikh, were aquitted. They had been acccused of being members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist organisation - which is blamed for the attacks. They were said to have carried out reconaissance and had supplied maps to the gunmen, but Judge ML Tahaliyani ruled that there was no evidence to support the charges.
Both the prosecution and defence must now make representations to the judge before he passes sentence later this week.
Security outside the court was heavy for the verdict, a reminder that the terrorism threat in India remains severe. Delhi in particular is on high alert after specific warnings of imminent attacks on areas frequented by westerners, but there are also raised security levels in other parts of the country.
Seven members of LeT remain on trial in Pakistan for their alleged role in the Mumbai attacks. Pakistan has requested Kasab's extradition to give evidence in the trial, a request which India has rejected.
India meanwhile wants to question a US citizen, David Headley, who has admitted carrying out scouting missions ahead of the Mumbai attacks. The US has agreed to grant access but has refused an extradition request.