Apex court stays Qasab's death sentence

The Supreme Court Monday stayed the death sentence awarded to Ajmal Amir Qasab, the lone gunman captured alive during the Nov 26-29, 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

An apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice C.K. Prasad stayed the death sentence till it hears his petition challenging his conviction and death sentence.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Alam said that "we have to afford him full opportunity" to defend himself as provided in the judicial system.

"That is the price we have to pay to uphold the supremacy of law," the court said.

Senior counsel Raju Ramachandran, who has been appointed amicus curiae (friend of the court) to defend Qasab, said: "People may believe it otherwise, but the due process of law demands that the accused should be given full opportunity to defend his case in the highest court."

Qasab was one of 10 Pakistanis who illegally sailed into India from Pakistan and launched the Nov 26-29 mayhem killing 166 people, including many foreigners.

He was awarded death sentence by a Mumbai trial court May 6, 2010. Besides other charges, he was convicted for waging war against the nation. The Bombay High Court upheld the verdict.

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