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Mumbai Gunman's Death Sentence Upheld

Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving suspected gunman in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, is under police custody at an undisclosed location in this undated photo, February 3, 2009.
NEW DELHI — India’s supreme court has upheld the death sentence handed out to a Pakistani gunman who was among 10 terrorists who carried out deadly terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008; 166 people were killed in the strike which India says was plotted by the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan.

Confirming the death sentence handed down to Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, two supreme court judges say his primary and foremost offense was that he participated in waging war against the country.

Kasab, a Pakistani national, had appealed the death sentence given to him in May 2010, saying he had not received a fair trial.

He was caught during a daring 60-hour terror assault in India’s financial hub, Mumbai, in 2008. He along with nine gunmen had attacked two five-star hotels, a rail station and a Jewish Center.

The verdict was widely expected in a case which prosecutors have long called “an open and shut case.” TV footage had showed Kasab carrying an AK-47 rifle at a crowded rail station, where nearly 52 of the 166 victims were killed.

The supreme court says it is clear the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan.

Sushil Kumar Shinde, India’s home minister, says he has been in talks with Pakistani authorities about bringing perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice, and will continue to press the issue.

New Delhi has long said that the masterminds of the Mumbai attacks are in Pakistan.

Pakistan says the attack was partly planned on its soil, but denies the involvement of any state agencies.

Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna says the verdict throws the spotlight on terrorism.

“We continue to feel, along with so many other countries, that terror continues to be the major bugbear [problem] of the international community and every country is concerned about terrorism,” said Krishna.

In Pakistan, independent foreign policy analyst Zafar Hilali says he does not think the Pakistani government would react differently from any other government to Wednesday’s verdict. “The man is a terrorist. He has been found to be a terrorist and a terrorist who kills gets what he deserves," he stated.

Kasab can appeal for a review of the judgment. He can also appeal for clemency to India’s president.

There will be pressure on the Indian government to carry out the death sentence quickly, particularly from the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. However, that could take time.

The last execution in India took place in 2004 and several prisoners are still on death row.