The European Union has expressed serious concern and deep regret over India executing a Pakistani militant who carried out a massacre during the Mumbai terror strikes four years ago.
Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving Pak gunman captured during the attacks on the western Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people and injured 300 others nearly four years ago, was hanged to death on Wednesday.
The Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist was executed and buried at the Yerwada Central Jail in another western Indian city of Pune after his mercy petition was rejected by the country's President earlier this month.
An Indian leader termed Kasab's execution, the first capital punishment in the country since 2004, as "a tribute to the victims of 26/11 attacks."
The United States, which lost its six citizens in the attack, said on Wednesday that Kasab "received due process in a full and transparent trial" after which the sentence was carried out.
The European Union's response came a day later. In a statement issued on Thursday, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said she was "very concerned by the execution. Irrespective of the merits of the case I deeply regrets this breach of the de-facto moratorium on the death penalty observed by India since 2004, which also goes against the global abolitionist trend," Ashton added.
While recognizing the "terrible murders committed at the heart of this case and the suffering of the victims and their families," the EU High Representative said that she did not believe that capital punishment could ever be justified.
India, which had adopted a stance that it will apply capital punishment in the "rarest of rare cases" of murder, carried out the execution the day after the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution seeking a moratorium on death penalty with an unprecedented support.
India was among the 39 countries that voted against the non-binding resolution on Tuesday, saying every nation had the "sovereign right" to determine its own legal system.
As many as 110 member nations voted for the draft resolution while 36 abstained from voting.
Ashton reiterated the EU policy of opposing death penalty in all cases and under any circumstances. She called on the Indian authorities to reintroduce the moratorium on executions "as a first step towards definitive abolition of capital punishment."
On Thursday, Human Rights Watch also followed suit by calling upon Indian government to "immediately reinstate its moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty."
The prolonged and complex procedures culminating in Kasab's execution came just five days before the fourth anniversary of the brutal terror strikes, one of the deadliest attacks on India.
Kasab, who along with an accomplice shot dead 52 people at the Mumbai CST Railway Station, was arrested on November 26, 2008 at Girgaum Chowpatty in South Mumbai.
India's anti-terrorist commandos killed all the other nine gunmen who carried out multiple-location attacks in the country's financial capital and held hostages for three days. Victims of the attack included foreigners.
by RTT Staff Writer
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