MUMBAI (AFP) - A rogue Indian bus driver who killed nine people in a rampage through the crowded streets of the western city of Pune last year was sentenced to death on Monday, a report said.
Thirty-year-old Santosh Mane took the bus from a depot last January and then sped through the city, crashing into motorists, pedestrians and foodstalls during a terrifying half-hour wrecking spree in the morning rush-hour.
During the trial, the driver's lawyer and family pleaded that he was "mentally unstable", but the judge dismissed their arguments and found the crime justified the death penalty.
"The accused has committed the murder of nine persons by moving the bus dangerously with the intention and knowledge that the act was so eminently dangerous that it will cause death or bodily harm," the Press Trust of India agency quoted the judge as saying.
Mane, a licensed driver of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, was convicted last week of murder, attempted murder and damage to property by the court in Pune.
The death penalty - handed down in India for the "rarest of rare" crimes - will have to be ratified by a higher court and defence counsel Dhananjay Mane said his client would appeal the sentence.
The driver ultimately has the option to appeal to the president for clemency.
Mane was caught when members of the public wrestled him from the controls after he rammed into another bus. Some 40 vehicles were left mangled, with cars damaged and autorickshaws overturned.
The Press Trust of India said that 37 people were injured by Mane, who had a history of reckless driving and had reportedly seen his demand for shorter working hours refused by his bosses the night before the rampage.
India rarely carries out executions but has recently put to death two men convicted for terror offences. There are more than 400 people on death row and the courts add to that every year.