Mumbai, May 6: A special anti-terror court in Mumbai on Thursday awarded the death sentence to Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested during the terror siege on the city in November 2008, for the carnage that had claimed 166 lives.
Kasab was awarded the death sentence on four counts and life sentence on five counts.
He was awarded the death sentence for waging war against the state and for the murder of Constable Tukaram Omble and four others.
"The circumstantial evidence favours the Prosecution. Kasab enjoyed the process of killing. He voluntarily joined the lashkar-e-Tayiba," said Judge M L Tahiliyani while pronouncing the sentence.
He ruled out the possibility of Kasab being rehabilitated, if awarded a lighter sentence.
"Kasab to be hanged by the neck till death," said the Judge. Kasab broke down when the Judge pronounced the death penalty.
It took the Judge one hour and 15 minutes to read out the sentence.
The verdict will be referred to the Bombay High Court for confirmation. Kasab also has a right to appeal against the verdict in the High Court.
The government may also consider filing an appeal in the High Court against the order of the trial court acquitting two Indians, Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, who were also tried along with Kasab for participating in conspiracy by conducting recee of 26/11 targets and giving hand drawn maps of these places to LeT which executed the attacks.
The high court may hear all these matters simultaneously. If the ruling goes against Kasab, he will still have a right to move the Supreme Court. If he is not satisfied with the apex court s decision, Kasab can file a mercy petition before the President.
All these procedures would take quite some time and Kasab would have to wait patiently for the verdicts in the higher courts.
Since his arrest on November 27, 2008, Kasab has been kept in solitary confinement in central prison in a specially made bomb and bullet-proof cell.
So far none of his relatives from Pakistan have tried to contact Kasab or the Indian authorities. He has also not expressed his desire to meet his relatives.
Kasab had approached the court midway during the trial pleading that he would prefer a lawyer from Pakistan to defend him.
The court, however, told him that his request has been forwarded to the Pakistan authorities and India has not yet received any response from the neighbouring country.
Prosecutor Nikam, seeking death penalty for Kasab, cited nine Supreme Court judgements to show that this case fell within the purview of the "rarest of the rare" ratio laid down by the apex court to award death penalty.
"If we do not give him death, then India will be perceived as a soft target by terrorist organisations and they will continue to target us," Nikam argued before the court on Tuesday.
Reading out Kasab’s confession, Nikam said he deserved no mercy and added that "he was a blood thirsty maniac who felt unhappy when he saw at Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus that there were not enough people to kill."
Most of the victims were helpless and unarmed and Kasab mercilessly shot them dead. He and slain terrorist Abu Ismail had directly killed 72 persons by using their AK 47 rifles and planting RDX in two taxis.
Among the victims were eight women and seven children. Kasab was also responsible for the death of other victims who were shot dead by his associates, Nikam said.
The convicted terrorist was a monster in human form and enjoyed the act of killing people. This is clear from his face captured in the photographs shot by two media cameraman, Nikam said.
However, Kasab’s lawyer K P Pawar said that his client was young and had been brainwashed by LeT. Kasab had been shown films about Kashmir and Godhra riots and he was "blinded by religion while committing terrorists acts," the lawyer said. Pawar argued that Kasab should be given a chance to reform.