MUMBAI, Sept 7 - Gangster Abu Salem on Thursday escaped death penalty in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case as a Special TADA Court sentenced two convicts to death while awarding him 25 years jail sentence in accordance with the provisions of the extradition treaty with Portugal that bars extreme punishment for him.
Special Judge GA Sanap pronounced the death verdict on Mohammed Taher Merchant, 55 and Feroze Abdul Rashid Khan, 47, for their role in the blasts, said Special Public Prosecutor Deepak Salve.
Besides Salem, 50, the Special Court sent Karimullah Khan, 55, to jail for life, and fifth convict, Riyaz Siddiqui, 67, to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.
�As per the Extradition Treaty between India-Portugal, this is the maximum sentence permissible to him since the death penalty is banned in Portugal where he was first arrested,� Special Public Prosecutor Deepak Salve said after the verdict.
The judge also slapped varying amounts of fines on the convicts after finding them guilty on various charges, including murder, hatching a criminal conspiracy to carry out the blasts, waging a war against the nation, supplying arms and ammunition, and other serious offences, Salve told media persons after the ruling.
All the six accused, including Mustafa Dossa, were earlier pronounced guilty by the Special Court on June 16. However Dossa, 60, died of a heart attack on June 28.
They were convicted and sentenced under various laws including Indian Penal Code, TADA, Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and others.
For perpetrating their heinous acts, the conspirators acquired and smuggled deadly arms and ammunition, detonators, hand grenades and nearly three tonnes of the deadly RDX (Research & Development Explosive - or Cyclotrimethylene Trinitramine), which was used for the first time after World War II on such a scale.
However, another accused Abdul Qayyum, 64, was acquitted from the case for lack of sufficient evidence against him and later released from jail.
The much-awaited verdict on the quantum of sentencing came 24 years after the March 12, 1993 serial blasts and nearly 80 days after they were found guilty.
At least 27 other accused in the case, including dreaded mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and Tiger Memon, who masterminded the blasts, continue to elude the investigators and are declared absconders. � IANS