The special Mumbai court will on Tuesday begin hearing arguments by the prosecution and the defence for the quantum of sentence for Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman in the Mumbai carnage. The maximum punishment Kasab can get is death penalty.
Kasab was yesterday held guilty of mass murder and waging war against India by a Special court which, however, acquitted two Indians.
In the fastest trial in a terror case, Special Judge M L Tahaliyani delivered a 1,522-page verdict in which he held that evidence in the November 26, 2008 terror attack pointed fingers at Pakistan.
The evidence also established that absconding accused, including Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba(LeT) commanders Hafeez Sayeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, were involved in the terror attacks, the judge said wrapping up a year-long trial in which 658 witnesses were examined.
Except for minor charges pertaining to forgery and few others under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Kasab was convicted on almost all the 86 charges framed against him.
"Main tumko doshi paya hai kyun ki aapne desh ke khilaf jung kiya aur 166 logon ki jan li apne doston se milkar" (I hold you guilty of waging war against the nation along with your associates and killing 166 people)," the judge told 22-year-old Kasab, a native of Faridkot village in Punjab province of Pakistan.
Home Minister P Chidambaram said the judgment underlines the fact that India is governed by Rule of Law in which the accused was given a fair trial.
"The judgment is a message to Pakistan that they should not export terror to India. If they do and we apprehend the terrorists we will bring them to justice and give them exemplary punishment," he said in New Delhi.
Kasab, who was unshaven and was wearing a white kurta, showed no emotions and sat impassively with his head bowed down as the verdict was pronounced in the high-security Arthur Road jail.
The court acquitted Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed who were accused of helping LeT in plotting the terror attack. They put up a broad smile after being acquitted.
"The prosecution's evidence against these two accused is doubtful and hence the benefit of doubt must go to them", the judge said, dismissing the prosecution case based on alleged recovery of a map of terror targets the two had helped the terrorists with.
Special Prosecutor Ujwal Nikam said he was happy that Kasab was convicted and unhappy that Ansari and Ahmed were set free. "We would appeal against the acquittal," he said.
Kasab, along with nine slain terrorists also belonging to LeT, was charged with killing 166 people, including 25 foreigners, and injuring 304 others at the instance of the terror outfit during the 60-hour-siege that began in the night of November 26, 2008 bringing Mumbai on its knees.