Page last updated at 18:12 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Death sentences of Calcutta US attackers is upheld

Aftab Ansari
Ansari, the attack mastermind, was arrested in Dubai

A court in India has upheld the death sentences of two men convicted of involvement in a 2002 shooting attack on a US cultural centre in Calcutta.

Five policemen died in the attack and nearly 20 others were injured.

Jamiluddin Nasir and Aftab Ansari were arrested in 2002 and charged with waging war against India.

The attack heightened tensions in South Asia, coming just weeks after a bloody raid on parliament in Delhi. Pakistan denied links to either incident.

The incident happened on 22 January 2002 when four men draped in shawls sped up to the American Centre building in Calcutta on two motorcycles.

They refused to stop at checkpoints and shot at police guards who returned fire.

Other men accused of carrying out the shooting were never found.

But Nasir and Ansari were arrested and sentenced to death in 2005. Five other men were convicted with them for their role in the attack.

"The high court rejected the appeals of Ansari and Nasir and confirmed their death sentences," Asimesh Goswami, chief public prosecutor of the Calcutta High Court, told the AFP news agency.

Ansari, who was extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates, was accused of masterminding the attack.

At the same hearing, the court overturned the death penalties of three other men convicted in the attack, sentencing them to life imprisonment. It also cleared two men facing the same charges, for lack of evidence.

Indian police say Ansari was part of a large underground network involving international crime syndicates, cross-border Islamic militant groups and al-Qaeda.

India's Supreme Court has stipulated that the death penalty should only be used in the "rarest of rare cases".

No date was announced for when the sentences will be carried out.

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