Death for 7 American Centre attack accused

Associated Press

Kolkata, April 27:

A court today sentenced seven people to death in the 2002 shooting outside an American cultural centre in Kolkata that killed five police officers.

Kolkata sessions court judge Basudev Mazumdar sentenced the seven a day after finding them guilty of murder, conspiracy and waging war against the country.

Five police officers guarding the American Centre were killed when gunmen opened fire on them on January 22, 2002.

The defendants’ lawyer said they would appeal the judgment. “We are not happy with the trial. We shall challenge the verdict in the high court, and we will win,” said Shahid Imam.

The seven included Dubai-based crime leader Aftab Ansari, who was held guilty of masterminding the attack.

The trial was held inside a high-security jail in Kolkata because the prosecution feared Ansari

could try to flee during transit from the jail to the court.

Indian officials said Pakistan’s spy agency and Islamic militants fighting in Kashmir — with whom Ansari had close ties — were behind the attack. Pakistan denied involvement.

Federal investigators in India have also linked Ansari to a Pakistani militant, who was accused of abducting and killing American journalist Daniel Pearl and wiring money to a suspect in the September 11 attacks.

Ansari is wanted by the Indian police for several crimes he allegedly committed in India before fleeing to Dubai.

India allows executions by shooting or hanging, but few death sentences have been carried out in recent decades.