Death sentence for lslamic terrorists in American Centre attack in Kolkota
Posted by jagoindia on February 11, 2010
KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court upheld on Friday the death sentence awarded by a lower court to two of the seven persons it had convicted in connection with the attack on the American Centre here in January 2002.
While three of the other five convicted by the lower court were sentenced to life, the High Court acquitted the remaining two persons on grounds of inadequate evidence against them.
Six policemen were killed and 14 injured in the terrorist attack on January 22, 2002, that was masterminded by the main accused Aftab Ansari, a Dubai-based don.
A Division Bench comprising Justices Ashim Banerjee and Kalidas Mukherjee upheld the death sentence pronounced by a city sessions court in April 2005 to Ansari and his close aide, Jamiluddin Nasir.
Public prosecutor Ashimesh Goswami told journalists after the verdict: “The death sentence that was awarded by the court below [lower court] has been confirmed [by the High Court]. While three other persons [Musarat Hussain, Sakir Akhtar and Hasrat Alam] were given life sentence, the remaining two [Rehan Alam and Adil Hassan] got acquittal because of scant evidence.”
Ansari will have another three months to appeal before the Supreme Court against the verdict. Defence counsel was, however, unavailable for comments.
The police examined 123 witnesses in the case and charged the accused under Sections 121 (waging war against the state), 121A (conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 27(3) of the Arms Act.
“Rarest of rare case”
The Sessions Court had convicted seven persons and had awarded death sentence to all, observing it as the “rarest of rare case.” The convicts had then appealed against the judgment in the High Court in October last. The judgment was pronounced on Friday after a 77-day hearing by the Bench.
Early on January 22, 2002, two motorcycle-borne terrorists opened fire from their AK-47 and AK-56 assault rifles on policemen guarding the American Centre, killing five policemen on the spot and injuring 15 others. Another policeman succumbed to injuries at the hospital later.
While initially the police was confused about the identity of the attackers, the dying statements of two Lashkar-e-Taiba militants, following an encounter at Hazaribagh in Jharkhand by the Delhi and Bihar police on January 26, 2002, revealed the involvement of Ansari.
Arrested in Dubai
Ansari was arrested in Dubai soon after and was deported to India on February 9, 2002.
Calling him a “prince of darkness,” Mr. Goswami said though Ansari was not in India when the attack took place, he was “monitoring and directing” the attack with the help of terrorists in the city and that there was no doubt about his Lashkar-e-Taiba link.
He was already sentenced to life by a special court here last year, for his involvement in the high-profile case of the abduction of shoe-baron Partha Pratim Roy Burman.