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A luxury hotel and Mumbai city landmark that was attacked by the terrorists

Christian leaders differ on death sentence

May 07 2010

NEW DELHI (UCAN) -- Christian leaders in India differed on handing the death sentence to the lone surviving gunman of the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai.

A special court on April 6 sentenced Mohammad Ajmal Kasab to death by hanging for unleashing terror in the Indian commercial capital on Nov. 26-29, 2008.

Kasab and nine other gunmen attacked vital points in the city, killing at least 173 people and injuring more than 300 in the three-day long rampage.

Police captured Kasab alive on the first day, while the others were killed in encounters with security forces. Investigations linked the attackers with the Islamic terror group Laskar-e-Taiba.

"We welcome the judgment. It is a message to everybody that the rule of law prevails," Church of North India Secretary General Reverend Enos Pradhan said.

He added that if such strong action was not taken there "will be no discipline, no rule of law."

However, a Catholic official differed. Capuchin Father Nithiya Sagayam, secretary for the Indian bishops' Commission for Justice, Peace and Development said the Church is opposed to capital punishment.

Instead of capital punishment, Kasab should "be guided and improved," he said. "Capital punishment does not solve any problem. It will only make things worse," he said.

"Capital punishment has to stop. There is a possibility of improving every person. Nobody has the right to kill a person," he added.

The trial in the case began on April 17, 2009 after an 11,000-page charge sheet was filed against Kasab. He was named in 312 counts, one of the highest number of charges ever against an accused. The trial ended on April 30, 2010. The judge convicted him on May 3.

Some people in the streets of Mumbai and elsewhere were seen celebrating the sentence bursting fire crackers.

Such celebration borders on "insanity," Father Sagayam said. "It is a clear sign that people are unreasonable and insensitive to other people's life," he added.

Father Sagayam said no government can stop terrorism by killing people. "You cannot justify killing a person," he added.

Father Babu Joseph, the Indian bishops' spokesperson also rejected the celebrations but said they were "a natural outburst" of people in the city that suffered from the violence.

IA09664/1600 May 7, 2010 37 EM-lines (365 words)

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