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Government Gazette

Sentencing begins in 1993 Mumbai bombings case

INDIA: A court handed out the first sentences Friday to five of the more than 100 people convicted of involvement in the 1993 serial bombings in India’s financial capital Mumbai that killed 257 people - the country’s deadliest terrorist attacks.

Five men, including three fishermen, were sentenced to three years imprisonment and a fine of 25,000 rupees (US$610, euro450) each for transporting caches of arms and ammunition on their fishing trawlers from the high seas to the Indian coast before the blasts.

Judge Pramod Kode said they were spared a harsher sentence of up to seven years because they were unaware of the contents of the containers they were smuggling.

The five were the first to receive sentences in proceedings that are expected to take 10 days and end one of India’s longest and most closely watched trials.

Those convicted range from gangsters and smugglers, to fishermen, customs officers, police officials, housewives and a famous Bollywood actor. Many were convicted in absentia.

They face charges ranging from illegal arms possession to conspiracy to commit terrorist acts in the series of blasts that tore through the heart of Mumbai in a two-hour span on March 12, 1993, killing 257 people.

“This is the biggest case in our history and we are finally nearing the end,” said special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.

The bombs were believed to have been acts of revenge for the demolition of a 16th century mosque by Hindu nationalists in northern India in 1992. After the demolition, religious riots erupted, leaving more than 800 dead, most of them Muslims.

The five men have already served three years in jail before they were released on bail.

However, they would still need to serve another six months’ jail time as none of them could afford to pay the fines, their lawyer Farhana Shah said.

Among the best known people convicted is Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, who was found guilty of possessing illegal arms supplied by another person convicted in the bombings. He was acquitted of a more serious charge of conspiring to plot the blasts.

Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and 33 other suspects remain at large. Authorities say many are hiding in Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies.


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