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Three Sentenced to Death for 1993 Mumbai Bombings

An Indian judge has sentenced to death three men found guilty of planting several of the bombs that killed 257 people in Mumbai in 1993. As Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, these are the first death sentences to be handed down in connection with India's deadliest terror attack, for which more than 100 people have been convicted.

Justice Pramod Kode handed down the death sentences in Mumbai. He told the three men their acts had disgraced the Muslim religion.

According to evidence at their long-running trial, Pervez Shaikh and Mushtaq Tarani left scooters packed with explosives in crowded areas of the city, and planted suitcases with bombs in hotels.

The third man, Abdul Ghani Ismail Turk, was found to have planted a powerful bomb in a jeep near Mumbai's passport office.

In all, 13 bombs exploded at points around the city that day, including the stock exchange and crowded markets. The 257 people killed made it the deadliest terrorist act in India's history.

The attacks were apparently prompted by riots that followed the demolition of a historic mosque in northern India in 1992.

Many Muslims were killed in those riots. Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam says the judge rejected the defense plea that the bombers had committed the acts to avenge the Muslim deaths.

Nikam says the court accepted the argument that anyone who indulges in a terrorist activity should be punished. He says the court agreed that this bombing was the rarest of rare cases, and that is why the judge pronounced the death sentences.

The sentences have to be ratified by the Supreme Court.

The court has sentenced 81 people for involvement in the bombings, but these are the first death sentences..

Fourteen people have been given life sentences, while more than 60 others have received terms ranging from three to 10 years.

The 19 who are still awaiting sentencing include several more bombers and a popular Bollywood film star.

Police say the mastermind of the blast was a Muslim gangster named Dawood Ibrahim. He has been on the run since 1993. Indian investigators say the bombers were assisted by Pakistan's military intelligence agency, but Pakistan has denied any link to the attack.