3 Harkat militants awarded death sentence
27 April 2002
The Times of India
NEW DELHI: Three Pakistani militants belonging to Harkat-ul-Ansar outfit were on Saturday sentenced to death by a Delhi court for kidnapping four foreign tourists, including an American in 1994 in a case in which Omar Sheikh was one of the accused.Special Judge S N Dhingra while sentencing to death Nazir Khan, Abdul Rahim and Naser Mehmood Sodozey, awarded life sentence to Nurul Amin, Mohd Sayeed and Mahmood.The court, however, had earlier dropped charges against British national Sheikh, who is facing trial in Pakistan in kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearls.The charges against him were dropped as part of a deal by the government with militants to secure the release of passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines aircraft to Kandhar in 1999.Finding Khan, Rahim and Sodozy guilty of kidnapping the foreign tourists, making them hostage and ultimately killing them, the special judge said, ''I sentence these three accused persons to death under Section 3(2)(1) of Tada.''The court also slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 on each of the six accused, including the three Indians sentenced to life imprisonment. On default of payment of the fine, the three convicts awarded to life imprisonment, would undergo rigorous imprisonment of two years each, the court ruled.Amin and Mehmood were further sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisionment for harbouring the other terrorists at various hideouts in Delhi. Two accused Hazi Samim and Mohd Yamin, residents of Uttar Pradesh were acquitted by the court. Stating that the accused did not deserve any leniency for the crime they had committed, the court separately sentenced the six accused for life under Tada for indulging in terrorist activities and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 for this on them. Besides, Khan and Sodozey were also sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment under Foreigners Act. They were slapped additional fine of Rs 25,000 for this offence. On default, they would have to undergo two more years imprisonment, the court said.Saying that the death sentence to the three Pakistani militants was subject to confirmation of the Supreme Court, the special judge said that the sentences awarded to the accused under provisions of different Acts would run concurrently. While Pakistani militants Khan and Sodozey have to pay the total fine of Rs 1 lakh each, Rahim have to pay Rs 75,000 as he has not been convicted under Foreigners Act.The other three Indian accused sentenced to life have to pay total fine of Rs 75,000 each.''The accused persons are to be given the benefit of Section 428 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and sentence awarded to them under different provisions of Indian Penal Code, Tada and Foreigners Act shall run concurrently,'' the court said.Section 428 provides that the jail term undergone by an accused during the pendency of the trial would be set off against the sentence.Prosecution had alleged that the Harkat-ul-Ansar militants had kidnapped American tourist Bela Joseph Nuss, the three British nationals - Christopher Miles Crosten, Rhys Curjel Partridge and Paul Banjamin Rideout - from the Connaught Place area here on October 20, 1994 to put pressure on the Indian government to release 10 hardcore terrorists from jail.According to the chargesheet filed by the police, Sheikh, who was holding a British passport had abducted the foreign nationals along with his accomplices after ''befriending'' them.Sheikh was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police following an encounter in Mussourie police station area of Ghaziabad district when a team had gone there to raid some premises in connection with a robbery case. American national Nuss, tied with chains, was rescued from there and three British nationals were rescued from Saharanpur after an encounter in which a constable and a militant were killed. Police had recovered a huge catche of arms and ammunition from the accused, including AK-47, pistols, hand grenades and seditious material supplied to them by ISI.Police in the chargesheet had submitted that during the the captivity of the hostages, the accused persons along with their associates kept them under constant threat of killing and took their photographs and wrote threatening letters to British High Commission and several foreign media groups.