Indian Court Sentences 2003 Mumbai Bombers to Death

An Indian court has sentenced three persons, including a woman, to death for carrying out two bomb attacks which killed 52 people in Mumbai six years ago. The three have been linked with the Islamic terror group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba.   

A special anti terrorism court turned down a plea for leniency by the defense, and handed down the death sentences Thursday to three persons, who have been convicted for murder, conspiracy to kill and damaging public property in Mumbai.

They include a couple -- Mohammed Haneef Sayyed, and his wife, Fahmeeda and a co-conspirator, Ashrat Ansari.

All three are Indians. They were found guilty of packing bombs in taxis, which exploded in a busy jewelry market and at a famous city landmark, the Gateway of India in 2003. The attacks killed 52 people, injured hundreds, and sent shock waves through India's financial capital.   

Mohammed Haneef Sayyed's lawyer had pleaded that his client should be spared the death sentence and be given life imprisonment. The counsel for Fahmeeda said she was poor and uneducated and was forced to commit the crime by her husband.

But prosecution lawyer Ujjwal Nikam told the court that people responsible for acts of terror such as bomb blasts should be punished in a befitting matter.    

Nikam says they asked for a death sentence so that it serves as a deterrent for those who commit such crimes in society, and no one in the future should have the courage to carry out bomb attacks.

Defense lawyers say they will appeal in a higher court against the death sentences for the three, who had pleaded not guilty to the crimes.

The prosecution has said the three convicted persons were members of the Pakistan-based Islamic militant group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and carried out the attacks at its behest. Police say the three had planned the bomb attacks to avenge the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in a wave of religious violence that rocked India's Gujarat state in 2001.

The Lashkar-e-Taiba has been accused by Indian authorities of carrying out other several other terror attacks in the country, including last year's deadly strikes by gunmen in Mumbai.

Several Indian cities, including the capital New Delhi have been victims of bomb attacks in recent years, but Mumbai has been devastated by some of the deadliest strikes.
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