MUMBAI: A special Terrorist and Disruptive Activity (TADA) Court on Thursday awarded death sentence to Taher Merchant and Feroze Khan, two of the five convicts in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. Two others, Abu Salem and Karimullah Khan were sentenced to life in jail. Another convict, Riyaz Siddiqui, was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Serial blasts on March 12, 1993 in Mumbai city killed 257 and left over 713 injured.
This sentencing came in the backdrop of conviction on June 16 where Court convicted Abu Salem, Taher Merchant, Feroze Khan and Karimullah Khan on charges of criminal conspiracy, murder and indulging in acts of terrorism that cause death. Riyaz Siddiqui was found guilty on the lesser charge for abetting and aiding terrorism.
Since Abu Salem was extradited from Portugal in 2005, a Lisbon court has held that he cannot be awarded death here although the charge against Salem could have attracted the maximum punishment. Salem, though his lawyer, has also argued that he cannot be jailed for more than 25 years as assured by the Indian government.
Key conspirator Mustafa Dossa, 60, died pending sentencing. The case against him has since abated and there will be no sentence pronounced against him.
Qayyum Shaikh, 64, behind bars for almost 11 years, was acquitted for lack of evidence. This trial of seven was the second in the 1993 case.
The main trial of 123 accused ended in 2006 with the conviction of 100. Yakub Memon, brother of prime absconding accused Tiger Memon, was hanged in 2015, and the others have served or are serving time.
The verdict will be the last in the case for now with no other accused currently in custody. Thirty-three accused are absconding, including key conspirators Dawood Ibrahim, his brother Anees Ibrahim, Mustafa’s brother Mohammed Dossa and Tiger Memon.