India hands Ajmal Kasab death sentence for Mumbai attacks
Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab may now appeal his death sentence, handed out Thursday for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Most death-row convicts in India spend years in prison as they try to reverse their punishment.
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In Mumbai, the sentencing was widely anticipated. In interviews with the local media this week, residents and relatives of the victims had been mostly calling for a death sentence. Some, like Ransley Santhumayor, who was shot four times in the leg by a gunman at Leopold Cafe near the Taj Hotel, say the sentence brings no relief.Skip to next paragraph
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“Hanging this guy is not going to fix anything, it's one more person dying,” says Mr. Santhumayor. “At least if they rehabilitated him, some people may be inspired ... and there may be a few less Kasabs.”
‘No mitigating circumstance’
On Thursday, the judge accepted the prosecution's arguments that Kasab deserved to be hanged not just for the gravity of his crime but for the manner in which it was done. Kasab displayed extreme cruelty in his attack on the city’s biggest train station and appeared to enjoy killing commuters, the prosecution argued.
Judge Tahiliyani agreed. “No words can express the brutality” of this crime, the judge said, noting that Kasab fired indiscriminately at women and children and showed no remorse.
The judge also invoked the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight, in which passengers were held hostage in Kandahar, Afghanistan, by terrorists until three top Islamic militants were released from Indian jails. One was Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who went on to kidnap and kill American journalist Daniel Pearl.
“To my mind, keeping such persons alive leaves a big danger hanging over the government,” Mr. Tahiliyani said.
Kasab’s defense lawyer, appointed by the court, pleaded for the lesser sentence of life imprisonment. He said Kasab was young, had been acting under the influence of others, and could be reformed.
But the judge rejected these arguments, saying, “No mitigating circumstance could tilt the balance toward a lesser sentence.”
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