A special Terrorist and Disruptive Activity (TADA) Court on Thursday sentenced gangster Abu Salem to life imprisonment for his role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts. Salem was extradited from Portugal in 2005. The treaty with Portugal does not allow for a death penalty, so he got away with life imprisonment. Tahir Merchant and Feroz Khan were given death sentence while Karimullah Khan was handed a life sentence.
On March 12, 1993, serial blasts in the city claimed 257 lives and left over 713 injured.
The sentencing comes after concrete stances were made by the prosecution and defense since June 16 when the court had convicted Salem, Merchant, Feroze, and Karimullah on charges of criminal conspiracy, murder and indulging in acts of terrorism that cause death. Siddiqui was found guilty on the lesser charge of abetting and aiding terrorism.
While CBI special public prosecutor Deepak Salvi sought the death sentence for Merchant, Feroze, and Karimullah, he pressed for life sentences against Salem and Merchant.
The charge against Salem could have attracted the maximum punishment. But since he was extradited from Portugal in 2005, a Lisbon court has held that he cannot be awarded death here. Salem, through his lawyer, has also argued that he cannot be jailed for more than 25 years as assured by the Indian government, reported The Times of India.
The Special Judge also slapped varying amounts of fines on the convicts after finding them guilty on various charges, including murder, conspiracy to hatch the blasts, supplying arms and ammunition, and other serious offenses.
All the six accused were earlier pronounced “guilty” by the Special Court on June 16, including Mustafa Dossa, who died of cardiac arrest at JJ Hospital shortly after being convicted, on June 28.
Salem, who was close to (Dawood’s brother) Anees Ibrahim and Dossa, took upon of himself to bring a part of arms and ammunition from Dighi to Mumbai, the court earlier said. This was “vital towards the achievement of the conspiracy so that the weapons could be used to terrorize and torment innocent citizens of India,” the court had said.
The trial of Salem, Mustafa Dossa, Karimullah Khan, Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui, Tahir Merchant and Abdul Qayyum was separated from the main case as they were arrested subsequently.