India’s Supreme Court on Monday stayed the death sentence of Ajmal Kasab, the only militants arrested alive, who was found involved in 2008 terror-attacks in Mumbai—pending an appeal hearing. Judge Aftab Alam told the court, “This case has to be heard on top priority. It is the demand of the judicial system that we have to hear this appeal.”
Kasab was convicted in May 2010. He was found guilty of a string of crimes, murder, attempted murder and terrorist acts after a trial at a maximum security prison court in Mumbai. The first appeal by the 23-year-old from a poor farming area in Pakistan’s Punjab state failed in February, when the state high court in Mumbai confirmed both his conviction and death sentence. India reserves executions, which are carried out by hanging, for the “rarest of the rare” offences.
During his trial, the prosecution produced fingerprint, DNA, eyewitness and camera evidence showing Kasab opening fire with an AK-47 machine gun and throwing grenades at Mumbai’s main railway station on November 26.
A number of high police officers including the head of the state anti-terrorism squad, were killed as the gunmen fled the scene of the carnage.
Prosecuting lawyer Ujjwal Nikam, who will appear for the state of Maharashtra at the appeal, described the Supreme Court’s decision as “routine” despite the weight of prosecution evidence against Kasab. (AFP)