Indian court sentences five to death over 2006 Mumbai blasts

MUMBAI (AFP) - An Indian court on Wednesday (Sept 30) sentenced five people to death for a series of blasts that ripped through packed trains in Mumbai in 2006, killing nearly 200 people, the Press Trust of India reported.

Another seven found guilty of involvement in the attacks were sentenced to life imprisonment by the special court, the news agency said.

IThe 12 men were convicted of murder, conspiracy and waging war against the country over the coordinated series of attacks that killed 189 people and injured more than 800.

Seven blasts ripped through the suburban trains during the evening rush hour in July 2006.

The bombs were packed into pressure cookers and then placed in bags and hidden under newspapers and umbrellas in the trains.

In all, police charged 30 people over the bombings including 13 Pakistani nationals, who along with four Indian suspects have yet to be arrested.

Prosecutors said the devices were assembled in Mumbai and deliberately placed in first-class coaches to target the city's wealthy Gujarati community.

They said the bombings were intended as revenge for riots in the western state of Gujarat in 2002 which left some 2,000 people dead, most of them Muslims.

Prosecutors accused Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba of being behind the 2006 attacks, although a little known outfit called Lashkar-e-Qahhar claimed responsibility.

Over the course of the nine-year trial, the court examined nearly 250 witnesses.

The accused were represented by Mr Shahid Azmi, a Muslim rights activist and lawyer, who was mysteriously killed by unidentified gunmen in 2010.