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Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 14:47 GMT
Death sentences for India parliament raid
Indian parliament attack
Nine people were killed in the parliament attack
An anti-terrorism court in Delhi has sentenced to death three men convicted of helping militants attack India's parliament last year.

Mohammed Afzal, a 35-year-old fruit merchant, Shaukat Hussain and SAR Geelani, a Delhi college teacher, were convicted on Monday on charges of waging war on the state and conspiracy to murder.

They are enemies of mankind. They deserve no leniency

Judge Dhingra
The fourth, Navjot or Afsan Guru, wife of Hussain, who was found guilty of "withholding information" from police, received five years imprisonment.

Police say Afzal and Hussain are members of the Pakistan-backed militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, fighting in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated after the attack, as they mobilised up to a million men along their common border, leading to international concern about a possible war.

Lawyers for the men plan to appeal, a process which can take several years.

The death sentence must also be ratified by a higher court under Indian law.

Attack plot

Awarding sentence, Judge SN Dhingra said the accused had been inspired by Osama Bin Laden.

If asking for the liberation of Kashmir is terrorism then I am a terrorist

Shaukat Hussain
"They are enemies of mankind. They deserve no leniency," he said.

Death by hanging is rare in India, and tends to be applied in particularly high-profile cases.

Wednesday's sentence is the first death penalty handed out under a recently-enacted anti-terrorism law.

Nine people were shot dead when five armed gunmen entered the grounds of parliament in Delhi in December last year.

All five attackers were shot dead by police.

None of the accused took part in the attack, but prosecutors said they helped in the planning it.

The gummen had intended to capture parliament and to kill the prime minister and home minister, the judge added.

Kashmir

As Hussain left the courtroom, he was reported as saying: "If asking for the liberation of Kashmir is terrorism then I am a terrorist."

India blames Pakistan for backing Kashmiri militant attacks on India - a charge that Islamabad has denied.

In recent months the tension has eased as both sides have pulled back their forces.

And in October, a new government came to power in Indian-administered Kashmir after successful elections to the state legislative.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Satish Jacob
"The three men did not actually take part in the attack"
Click here fror background reports and analysis

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18 Dec 02 | South Asia
14 Dec 02 | South Asia
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13 Dec 01 | South Asia
26 Mar 02 | South Asia
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