Mumbai: Seeking severest possible sentence for six persons convicted last week in the 1993 Mumbai serial terror blasts, the prosecution on Thursday told an anti-terror court here that many civilised countries still have death penalty for such offences.

While deciding the sentence, the court should keep in mind that 257 people had died and 713 injured in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, special CBI counsel Deepak Salvi urged.

The anti-terror court set up under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act cases, had last week convicted six persons including gangsters Abu Salem and Mustafa Dossa in the case, 24 years after the blasts. The court is now hearing arguments on quantum of sentence. “These two figures (of the dead and injured) are sufficient to show the brutality of the crime," said Salvi.

Five of the present accused were convicted for murder and conspiracy under the IPC and also under the TADA, the maximum punishment for which is death, Salvi said. The conspiracy, starting from the first meeting held at Dossa’s house in Dubai, and the acts carried out later “with grit and tenacity" resulted in a bloodbath, he said.

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The crime was committed in “an extremely brutal, grotesque, diabolical, revolting and dastardly manner so as to instill intense and extreme fear and thereby terrorise people of this peaceful, democratic civilisation i.e. the Republic of India and the city of Mumbai, a city that has been reeling from it effects ever since", he said.

“Punishment by the state is vital to keep ordinary citizens from taking the law into their own hands—some form of retribution is vital for closure, for righting the wrong," the CBI lawyer argued.

Salvi also said “most countries in the modern world" including Russia, USA, France, Belgium, Malaysia, China and Japan have retained the death penalty, and these countries can not “by any standard be called uncivilised nations or immature societies".

To bolster the argument, he also cited the Supreme Court’s judgement upholding the death sentence for Yakub Memon in the previous phase of the trial. Memon was the only convict to hang.

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The quantity of RDX (1,500 kg) smuggled in by the conspirators was enough to reduce entire Mumbai to ashes, Salvi said. The prosecution’s argument will continue on Friday.

In the first phase of the trial, one hundred accused were convicted. The trial of Salem, Dossa, Karimullah Khan, Feroz Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui, Tahir Merchant and Abdul Qayyum was separated because they were arrested later. Qayyum was acquitted by the court.

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