01/15/2007, 00.00
INDIA
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Death sentence for Muslim terrorist upheld

Supreme Court judges reject plea from Mohammed Afzal Guru, considered the mastermind behind the 2001 attack against the Indian parliament. Activist speaks however of the country having two legal systems, one for the majority and one for the minority.

Delhi (AsiaNews) – India’s Supreme Court has rejected the appeal for mercy filed by Afzal Guru, who was sentenced to death for conspiracy in the 2001 attack against the Indian Parliament in which 15 people were killed. His last step now is a petition already submitted to Indian President Abdul Kalam. Afzal, who was convicted in 2002, belongs to a Kashmir-based Muslim extremist group.

Following the court’s decision, many voices have been raised calling for mercy. A former chief minister of Kashmir has warned that India will "go up in flames" if Guru is hanged.

In his December 12 appeal, the militant claimed he was victim of a gross miscarriage of justice, but the court concluded that his plea had "no merit”.

Human rights activist Ram Puniyani told AsiaNew that “hanging of Afzal Guru will further alienate a large section of Indian Muslims. Already many of them are under the impression that there are two set of laws, one for majority and the other for the minority.”

At the same time, many Muslims are saying that the attack against the parliament building “was not thoroughly investigated,” he said. “Suspicions and haphazard evidence were good enough to hand down harsh sentences. By contrast, when material evidence involving criminals, albeit Hindu ones, is strong, it is not even taken into account by the judges. This way justice becomes just vengeance.” (NC)

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