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Indian court convicts 12 in 2006 Mumbai train blasts

Indian court convicts 12 in 2006 Mumbai train blasts
Police escort one of the accused in the 2006 commuter train bombings outside a jail in Mumbai, India, on Sept. 11. (European Pressphoto Agency)

An Indian court on Friday convicted 12 men in the bombings of commuter trains in Mumbai nine years ago that killed 189 people and injured more than 800.

The special court found the men, all Indian nationals, guilty of conspiracy, murder and "waging war against the nation." One Indian man was acquitted.

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Prosecutors argued that the 13 men had been trained in Pakistan, and said the attack was planned by the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba with support from Pakistani intelligence. Pakistan has denied involvement.

Those convicted face life in prison or the death penalty.

"Justice has been done for the people of Mumbai," prosecutor Raja Thakre told reporters after the verdict. "I will ask for the strictest punishment when I argue for their sentences."

The July 11, 2006, attack unleashed chaos in Mumbai when seven bombs exploded just minutes apart aboard local trains during the evening rush hour. The jam-packed trains are the busiest mode of public transport in India's commercial capital, carrying more than 1 million passengers every day.

Over the last nine years, more than 200 witnesses were examined, producing depositions of more than 5,000 total pages. In India's delay-plagued justice system, the trial began in 2007 and concluded last year, although it took the judge a year to announce the verdict.

The accused complained that they were coerced into making confessions and tortured while in police custody, which law enforcement officials described as a tactic to prolong the trial. Officials said they were members of the Students' Islamic Movement of India, a banned Indian militant group.

"Because the accused were part of SIMI and were trained in Pakistan, they were tough nuts to crack," said retired police officer Arun Khanvilkar, an investigator in the case. "They would create encumbrances every now and then."

A total of 30 people were charged in the blasts, including 13 Pakistani nationals and four Indians who remain at large.

Parth M.N. is a special correspondent.

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