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Three guilty of 2003 Mumbai blasts
Prosecutors seek death sentence for trio whose attacks led to deaths of 52 people.
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2009 15:25 GMT
Two bombs planted in taxis went off within minutes of each other outside Mumbai landmarks [File: AFP]

Three people are facing a death sentence after being convicted of carrying out twin bombings that killed at least 52 people in the city of Mumbai, India's financial capital, in 2003.

Haneef Sayyed, his wife Fahmeeda, and Ashrat Ansari were convicted on Monday in an Indian court of conspiracy and murder over the attacks at the Gateway of India monument and in the gold and jewellery quarter of the Zaveri Bazaar.

The three, who now face the death penalty, were said by police to be members of the so-called Gujarat Muslim Revenge Force, and the bombings were retaliation for Hindu attacks on Muslims during riots in Gujarat state in 2002.

Ujjwal Nikam, the prosecutor, said that they also had links to the banned Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group, which has also been accused of planning last November's attack on Mumbai in which at least 166 people died.

"LeT has received a major blow because three LeT hardcore terrorists ... have been sentenced under POTA [Prevention of Terrorism Act] for bombing Mumbai, killing people and terrorising people."

'Harshest punishment'

Nikam said the crimes were "of a very serious nature and ... we are going to ask for the harshest punishment".

The judge said the three would be sentenced in early August.

The three defendants had pleaded not guilty to all charges and Sushan Kunjuramaran, their lawyer, said he was shocked at the court's decision and would consider an appeal.

Two other men accused of providing and assembling the high-explosive RDX devices used in the attacks were previously acquitted by the court.

The bombs were planted in two taxis and exploded within minutes of each other in two busy areas of Mumbai at lunchtime on August 25, 2003.

At least 2,000 Muslims had been hacked, beaten, shot or burned to death during the violence in Gujarat the previous year, which erupted after 59 Hindu pilgrims died in a train fire which was at first blamed on a Muslim mob.

A subsequent inquiry concluded the fire was accidental.

Source:
Agencies
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