Two sentenced to death for 1993 Mumbai bomb attacks

AFTERMATH: A policeman
surveys the scene in 1993
AFTERMATH: A policeman surveys the scene in 1993

AN INDIAN court sentenced two convicts to death last Thursday (7) in connection with the country’s deadliest bombings, a series of blasts that rocked Mumbai two decades ago and claimed more than 250 lives.

Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan and Taher Merchand were convicted of conspiracy and murder in the 1993 blasts and handed the death penalty in the case’s final sentencing last Thursday.

“It was a historic judgement and its impact will reverberate for years,” public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said.

A key figure in the attacks, Abu Salem, was sentenced to life imprisonment, along with Ka­rimullah Khan, for their roles in the 12 bomb blasts that killed 257 people and injured hun­dreds more.

India had to agree that Salem would not re­ceive the death penalty when he was extradited from Portugal.

A fifth man, Riyaz Siddiqui, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, Nikam said.

The sentences come after a special court in Mumbai convicted the men in June on a range of offences in the attacks. Another accused, Musta­fa Dossa, died of a heart attack shortly after the convictions.

The court had acquitted a seventh man, Abdul Quayyum, for lack of evidence. The men were found guilty of involvement in coordinated bomb attacks on the Mumbai stock exchange, the headquarters of Air India and a shopping centre in March 1993.

The attacks were believed to have been staged by Mumbai’s Muslim-dominated underworld in re­taliation for anti-Muslim violence that had killed more than 1,000 people a few months earlier.

Salem went on the run after the 1993 attacks and was only extradited from Portugal in 2005.

Salem is a former associate of Dawood Ibra­him, India’s most wanted criminal, who allegedly masterminded the 1993 blasts.