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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Mumbai bombing sentencing delay
Scene of Mumbai blasts 1993

Four family members convicted over a series of bomb blasts in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) in 1993 are now expected to be sentenced on Thursday.

The delay in sentencing, due on Wednesday, came after defence lawyers asked for more time to plead for leniency, prosecutors told the BBC.

Yaqub Memon, Yusuf Memon, Isa Memon and Rubina Memon were all convicted of conspiracy in India's deadliest blasts.

The bombings in the financial capital killed 257 people and wounded 713.

The defence lawyer asked for an extension to be able to plead leniency
Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam

The case has 123 defendants and verdicts will be announced in stages over the next few weeks.

The man thought to be the mastermind of the plot, underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, has still not been caught.

India says he is hiding in Pakistan, a charge Pakistan has denied.

More time

The Memon family members were found guilty on Tuesday and could face death sentences. Three other members of the family were acquitted.

12 blasts
257 dead
713 injured
123 arrested and tried
686 witnesses testify
35,000 pages of evidence submitted
13 years to reach verdict

They are related to another main accused, Tiger Memon, who has not been caught and is believed to be living outside India.

Correspondents say Tiger Memon owned a restaurant in Mumbai and was allegedly closely associated with Dawood Ibrahim.

Explaining the delay in sentencing the Memons, public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said: "The defence lawyer asked for an extension to be able to plead leniency and therefore the court will not announce the sentences today."

He said the court would also announce its judgement against the next batch of accused on Thursday, some of whom are alleged to be directly involved in carrying out the blasts.

Bollywood star, Sanjay Dutt, is also among the accused.

Dutt was arrested 13 years ago on terrorism charges and spent nearly two years in jail before the Supreme Court ordered his release on bail.

Hundreds of witnesses

The BBC's Zubair Ahmed in Mumbai says there have been few trials in India's legal history to match this one.

It has taken more than a decade, with evidence from more than 600 witnesses.

The bombings are believed to have been carried out by one of the city's notorious underworld crime syndicates, which were then dominated by Muslims.

Their motive is said to have been to avenge the deaths of Muslims killed in religious rioting in the city during the preceding months.

Most of the accused have been languishing in jail for the past 13 years. Lawyers have criticised the length of the trial.

The case has taken so long that 12 of the accused have died and others have been imprisoned for so much longer than their likely sentence that a guilty verdict may still result in them walking free.

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