The lone German bakery blast case convict Mirza Himayat Inayat Baig was sentenced to death by a sessions court in Pune on Thursday.
The court had on Monday found Baig, the only person arrested among the seven accused in the case, guilty on five counts, including murder and criminal conspiracy.
After day-long arguments, additional sessions judge N P Dhote said the case fell under the “rarest-of-the-rare” category, warranting the most severe punishment.
The court also sentenced him to life imprisonment on five other counts. The death penalty will have to be confirmed by the Bombay high court.
Baig, who had kept his calm when pronounced guilty, fainted briefly on hearing the sentence. “The innocent victims of bakery blast will not get justice if another innocent person gets hanged,” a weeping Baig said, reading out from his notes in a packed courtroom.
The judge said he could approach higher court if he felt justice was not done.
At around 7pm on February 13, 2010, a powerful blast ripped apart Pune’s famous German Bakery, killing 17 people, including four foreign nationals, and wounding 60.
The blast was the work of home-grown terror outfit Indian Mujahideen. Its founding members Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal (both brothers) and Yasin Bhatkal are among the five named in the charge sheet. All of them are at large. Seventh suspect Zabiuddin Ansari is yet to be tried.
A native of Beed in Maharashtra, Baig was arrested on September 7, 2010 in Pune. He not only liaised between IM and Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba but also assembled the bomb with the help of two IM men at his cyber café, police said.
IM is also suspected to have carried out Wednesday's Bengaluru blast that left 16 people wounded.