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(photo credit: AP [file])
An Indian judge on Wednesday handed out the first death sentences to three men convicted of planting a series of bombs that ripped through India's financial capital in 1993, killing 257 people in India's deadliest terrorist attack.
Justice Pramod Kode handed the sentences to Parvez Shaikh, Mushtaq Tarani and Abdul Ghani Turk. All three were convicted of planting explosive laden suitcases and scooters in Mumbai on March 12, 1993.
More than 100 people were convicted of involvement in the plot, thought to be an act acts of revenge for the demolition of a 16th century mosque by Hindu nationalists in northern India in 1992. After the demolition, religious riots erupted, leaving more than 800 dead, most of them Muslims.
However, these were the first death sentences handed down in the case, which is nearing the end of one of India's longest and most closely watched trials. As many as 13 other bombers are awaiting sentencing.
Those convicted include gangsters, smugglers, fishermen, customs officers, police officials, homemakers and a famous Bollywood actor. Many were convicted in absentia.
Thirty-five suspects remain at large. Authorities say many are hiding in Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies.
Shaikh was convicted of planting a scooter packed with explosives in a crowded Mumbai market and an explosives-filled suitcase in a city hotel.
Tarani placed a bomb inside a suitcase in a city hotel that caused extensive damage and planting a scooter with explosives in a crowded downtown street that did not detonate.
Turk was sentenced to death for packing a jeep with bombs near Mumbai's passport office.