The Calcutta High Court on Friday upheld death sentences for key accused Aftab Ansari and close aide Jamiluddin Nasir convicted of involvement in a 2002 attack on American Centre in Kolkata in which six policemen were killed.
The high court, however, commuted the capital punishment awarded to three others to seven years imprisonment in the American Centre attack case. Two others were acquitted in the case.
A division bench comprising Justice Ashim Banerjee and Kalidas Mukherjee after a 77-day hearing upheld the death sentence pronounced by a Sessions court in April 2005 on Ansari and Nasir.
The trial court had in all convicted seven persons and sentenced them to death. The convicts had then appealed against the judgment in the high court in October last year. They were charged under sections 121 (waging war against the state), 121-A (conspiracy), 302 and 9 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC and 27(3) of the Arm's Act.
Ansari will have another three months to appeal before the Supreme Court against the verdict. Two motorcycle-borne men had indiscriminately fired from an AK-47 assault rifle at policemen outside the American Centre on Jawaharlal Nehru Road early in the morning of January 22, 2002 killing six policemen and injuring 14 others.
On January 26, just four days after the attack, two persons -- Salim and Zahid -- were injured and subsequently died in an encounter with Delhi police at Hazaribagh. The police came to know about the involvement of Aftab in the American Centre attack from their dying statement.
Ansari was arrested from Dubai soon after and was deported to India on February 9, 2002.
Dubai-based Ansari was part of an outfit Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF) that reportedly had links with Harkat- ul-Jehadi-e-Islam.