Mumbai : Amid high drama, a special anti-terror court here Friday sentenced Yakub Memon to death while three members of his family were handed out life terms for their role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts that killed 257 people.
Yakub's sentencing takes the number of those sent to the gallows for the bombings to 12.
As an accountant, Yakub, brother of absconding prime accused Tiger Memon, had financed the blasts through hawala transfers and had also arranged for air tickets for many of the accused who had received weapons training in Pakistan.
But even before Judge Pramod Kode of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) Court could finish pronouncing Yakub's sentence, the 44-year-old bearded convict lost his cool.
As soon as he learnt of his death sentence, Yakub jumped up and burst out saying, "Oh my lord, this man knows not what he does. Please forgive him," referring to Kode.
Police had to forcibly drag him out later on Kode's orders.
Rubina Memon, wife of Tiger Memon's brother Suleiman Memon, was handed out a life term. She was not given death because she was a woman and most decisions regarding the blasts were taken by male members of the Memon family.
Yusuf and Essa Memon, other brothers of Tiger Memon, also got life sentences for their role in the blasts. They are both suffering from health problems and so were spared from death.
"Though Rubina Memon was found guilty of allowing her Maruti van for transporting weapons and arms and also allowing her flat at Al Hussaini building for the conspiracy meeting to carry out the terror acts, considering that she is a woman, and that the prosecution had not demanded capital punishment, she is not being given the death sentence," Kode said while sentencing her for life.
"But she should be taken into custody immediately," the judge added. Rubina had been on bail since her conviction in September 2006.
A burkha-clad Rubina collapsed after hearing the sentence and policewomen had to support her out of court.
Yusuf and Essa were also found guilty of allowing their flat at Al Hussaini building to be used for conspiracy meetings. "But considering that he (Yusuf) is suffering from schizophrenia …his sentence for conspiracy is being lowered from death to life sentence," Kode said.
While sentencing Essa, Kode said: "The crimes committed by Essa are similar to that of Yusuf. But again considering that he is suffering from a brain tumour and morbid obesity for the last two-three years, death sentence is being lowered to life."
The judge added: "The sentencing has nothing to do with the relationship of the convicts with the prime accused absconding Tiger Memon. But for the acts they have committed."
With the sentencing of the Memon family, all cases of convicts awaiting death sentences have ended. The court has so far sentenced 12 to the gallows, 17 have been given life terms and three got 14-years rigorous imprisonment.
The fate of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, along with three others convicted under the Arms Act of illegal possession of weapons will be decided July 31.