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2003 Mumbai twin blasts verdict Dec 12

Eight years after Mumbai was rocked by twin blasts which killed 52 and injured 244 people, the Bombay High Court Saturday heard the final arguments on the confirmation of death sentences in the case.

The verdict will be pronounced Dec 12, said counsel S. Kunjuraman, who is representing Ashrath Shafique Ansari, one of the prime accused in the case.

A total of 52 people were killed Aug 25, 2003 when a powerful bomb went off near Gateway of India, a prime tourist landmark, and another at Zaveri Bazar, the hub of the gold and jewellery trade, barely four kms from each other.

The injured were mainly tourists.

A division bench of Justice A.M. Khanvilkar and Justice P.D. Kode held a special sitting Saturday to complete hearing the arguments.

“Two other cases were also clubbed together with the twin blasts case – the Ghatkopar blast and SEEPZ unexploded bomb case,” Kunjuraman told.

A bomb explosion at a bus stop in the Ghatkopar suburb July 8, 2003 killed two people, while an unexploded bomb was found in a bus in the Special Electronics Export Promotion Zone (SEEPZ) in the Jogeshwari east suburb Dec 2, 2002.

The accused are common in these cases.

Besides Ansari, 35, there are two other prime accused — Mohammed Hanif Syed, 49, and his wife Fahmida, 46. Their minor daughter Farheen was also named an accused, but she was subsequently discharged from the case.

All three were awarded death sentences in January 2009 by a special court for Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) here, and the high court was hearing the confirmation of the death sentences.

The twin blast case was jointly investigated by the Mumbai police and Anti-Terrorist Squad, which managed to nab eight people.

Two other accused – Rizwan M.A. Laddoowala and Mohammed Hassan Batterywala – were discharged by the POTA review committee, which was later upheld by the Supreme Court as it found there was no case against them, Kunjuraman said.

Another prime accused Zahid Patni turned an approver and was pardoned in May 2004, while one accused died during trial.

A total of 103 witnesses were examined during the trial, which was held in the special POTA court here since 2004.

They were found guilty under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Explosives Act, Explosives Substances Act and the dreaded POTA.

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