NEW DELHI: Indian officials on Tuesday submitted a clemency plea to the president by the lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, opening the final appeal stage against his death sentence.
Pakistan-born Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, currently in jail in Mumbai, was one of 10 gunmen who laid siege to the city in attacks that lasted nearly three days and killed 166 people and wounded more than 300 on November 26, 2008.
“Now it is for the president of India to take a final call as he holds the supreme authority in this matter,” a senior home ministry official told AFP, requesting anonymity.
The Press Trust of India reported Tuesday that the Home Ministry has advised President Pranab Mukherjee to reject the petition.
Government prosecutor Ujwal Nikam said the president would keep in mind the ministry's recommendation while considering Kasab's plea.
Kasab was sentenced to death in May 2010 after he was found guilty of a string of charges, including waging war against India, murder and terrorist acts.
He appealed in the Supreme Court claiming he did not receive a fair trial, but his petition was struck down in August.
Prisoners can often languish for years on death row in India, with only one execution having taken place in the last 15 years -- that of a former security guard hanged in 2004 for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.
During the 2008 attacks, the heavily armed Islamist gunmen stormed targets in Mumbai including luxury hotels, a Jewish centre, a hospital and a bustling train station.
India blames the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant organisation for training, equipping and financing the gunmen with support from “elements”in the Pakistan military.
President Pranab Mukherjee, who took office in July, is considering 11 other appeals from death row prisoners.