Sentencing in 2003 M'bai blasts case today


Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) Special Judge M R Puranik had found Mohammed Hanif Sayed, his wife Fahimida M H Sayed and their associate Ashrat Shafique Ansari guilty of carrying out the August 25, 2003, blasts at the Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazar in which 54 people were killed and 244 injured.

The special judge is expected to announce the sentence in the verdict after the prosecution and defence argue on the quantum of punishment for the guilty on Tuesday. “This is a major jolt for the LeT and it is the first time in India that a family has been found guilty of carrying out terrorist operations. In view of the serious charges against them, we shall seek the most stringent— death penalty—for the accused,” prosecution lawyer Ujjwal Nikam said last week.

The defence lawyers, however, are adopting different strategies. Ashrat’s lawyer S Kunjuraman said that he would “remain totally silent” in the court. “This is a baseless and meaningless judgment. There is not an iota of evidence against my client (Ashrat). I shall move the Bombay High Court, whatever be the outcome on Tuesday,” Kunjuraman said.

The Sayeds’ laywer Wahab Khan said he would strongly oppose the prosecution plea for death penalty and push for life sentences. “Our contention is that this is not the rarest of rare cases, so it does not warrant death penalty.”

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