India executes Mumbai attacks gunman
The sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks was executed on Wednesday, nearly four years after 166 people were killed in a three-day rampage through India’s financial capital, an official announced.
Mohammed Kasab was hanged early on Wednesday at Yerwada jail in Pune in the western state of Maharashtra after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his mercy plea earlier this month.
“Kasab was shifted to Yerwada jail two days ago. He was hanged at 7.30 this morning,” Maharashtra home minister R. R Patil told reporters in Mumbai.
“His execution is a fitting tribute to the victims of Mumbai attacks.”
The Pakistan-born Kasab was one of 10 gunmen who laid siege to the city in attacks that began on November 26, 2008, and lasted nearly three days.
Kasab was sentenced to death in May 2010 after he was found guilty of a string of charges, including waging war against India, murder and terrorist acts.
He appealed in the Supreme Court, claiming he did not receive a fair trial but his petition was struck down in August.
During the 2008 attacks, the heavily armed Islamist gunmen stormed targets in Mumbai including luxury hotels, a Jewish centre, a hospital and a bustling train station.
India blames the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant organisation for training, equipping and financing the gunmen with support from “elements” in the Pakistani military.
Pakistan admitted that the attacks were planned partly on its soil, but denies any official involvement. It charged seven alleged plotters behind the attacks in 2009 but insisted more evidence was needed to convict them.
Kasab initially pleaded not guilty, but later confessed, admitting he was one of the gunmen sent by the LeT.
At his trial, the prosecution produced fingerprint, DNA, eyewitness and TV footage evidence showing him opening fire and throwing grenades at Mumbai’s main railway station in the bloodiest episode of the attacks.
India has executed only one person in 15 years – a former security guard hanged in 2004 for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.
Prisoners can often languish for years on death row, but there had been a huge clamour for Kasab’s execution.
During his appeal, Kasab argued that he was denied proper legal representation and that some charges against him were not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
“I was denied a fair trial,” Kasab said in a statement when his appeal hearing began in January. “I may be guilty of killing people and carrying out a terrorist act, but I am not guilty of waging war against the state.”