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Kasab awarded death sentence

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* Gunman convicted of murder, waging war, conspiracy, terror
* Can seek clemency after sentence reviewed by Mumbai HC

MUMBAI: An Indian judge on Thursday sentenced to death the sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks after a year-long trial over the bloody attacks.

Judge ML Tahaliyani imposed the death penalty against Pakistani-national Ajmal Amir Kasab on four counts – murder, waging war against India, conspiracy and terrorism.

“He should be hanged by the neck until he is dead,” the judge said. “I don’t find any case for a lesser punishment than death in the case of waging war against India, murder and terrorist acts.”

Kasab sat with his head in his hands as the judge passed the sentence, three days after his conviction on Monday.

Tahaliyani said the evidence showed “previous, meticulous and systematic planning” of the atrocity. “Brutality was writ large,” he added, describing the offences as being “of exceptional depravity”.

Rejecting Kasab’s contention that he had committed the crime under duress and pressure from militants, the judge added, “Such a person can’t be given an opportunity to reform himself.”

Observers say a lengthy, possibly open-ended, appeal through the Indian courts is likely.

Clemency: The case will automatically pass to the Mumbai High Court, which will review the sentence. Kasab can then appeal to the Supreme Court and ultimately ask for clemency from the president.

“I have not yet spoken to Kasab to discuss a future course of action.” defence lawyer KP Pawar told reporters outside the court.

However, special prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said on Wednesday he expected it would take at least a year for the sentence to be carried out.

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