MUMBAI: Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed, has pleaded for mercy in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case in a final bid to avoid the gallows. His mercy petition has been sent to the President's office, Indian media outlets reported.
Pakistan-born Kasab sent his petition through officials at the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai where he is being held, the Press Trust of India said.
“We have sent a mercy petition to the president filed by Kasab,” the news agency quoted a senior official at the high-security prison as saying.
Earlier in August, Indian Supreme Court rejected a plea by Kasab to convert the death sentence handed to him by the Bombay High Court to life imprisonment.
“We are left with no option but to award death penalty,” the two judges said in a court order on August 29. “The primary and foremost offence committed by Kasab is waging war against the government of India.”
Kasab, who is currently held in a maximum-security prison in Mumbai, was found guilty on charges, including waging war, murder and terrorist acts, and was sentenced to death in May 2010.
Only one execution has taken place in India in 15 years — that of a former security guard hanged in 2004 for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.
However public demands for the hanging of Kasab have been growing ever since the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against the death sentence.
During the November 2008 attacks, heavily armed gunmen stormed targets in Mumbai, including luxury hotels, a Jewish centre, a hospital and a bustling train station.
India blames the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant organisation for training, equipping and financing the gunmen with support from `elements’ in the Pakistan military.
Kasab initially pleaded not guilty but later confessed, admitting he was one of the gunmen sent by LeT.
At his trial, the prosecution produced fingerprint, DNA, eyewitness and TV footage evidence showing him opening fire and throwing grenades at Mumbai’s main railway station in the bloodiest episode of the attacks.
“I was denied a fair trial,” Kasab said in a statement when his appeal hearing began in January. “I may be guilty of killing people and carrying out a terrorist act but I am not guilty of waging war against the state.”
He said that he was denied proper legal representation and that some charges against him were not proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
President Pranab Mukherjee, who took office in July, is currently considering 11 other appeals for clemency from death row prisoners.