Calls grow for quick execution of Mumbai gunman

Calls for the immediate execution of Mohammed Kasab, the lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, grew in India on Thursday after his Supreme Court appeal was rejected.

Kasab was one of 10 gunmen who targeted the main railway station, luxury hotels and other venues in the city during nearly three days of carnage when 166 people were killed in scenes that unfolded live on television.

Indian convicts sentenced to hanging often languish for years on death row and Kasab can also seek clemency from the president, but victims' relatives, politicians and the media demanded he should be executed as soon as possible.

"He should be hanged at once," Moumina Khatoon, the wife of a taxi driver who was killed during the attacks, told AFP. "A man who doesn't deserve to live has been kept alive for so long. What for?"

"The judgement is out.... I want to see him hanged to death," Mohammed Hanif Peer, who lost his brother in the attacks, told the Hindustan Times.

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.

After the Supreme Court rejected his appeal on Wednesday, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that if Kasab applied to the president for mercy "we will ensure that it is disposed of in minimum time."

The Times of India in an editorial backed an early execution for Kasab despite some other convicts waiting more than 20 years on death row.

"Now that his death sentence has been upheld by the SC, any unwarranted delay in hanging him should be avoided," it said.

India has executed just one person in 15 years -- a former security guard hanged in 2004 for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.

But public demands for the hanging of Kasab, a Pakistani national, have been strong since the Mumbai attacks four years ago.

The prosecution produced fingerprint, DNA, eyewitness and TV footage evidence showing him opening fire and throwing grenades at Mumbai railway station in the bloodiest episode of the assault.

President Pranab Mukherjee, who took office in July, has 11 death penalty cases awaiting his clemency decision.


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