India president advised to reject Qasab mercy plea

Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab in the middle of the attacks
Image caption Qasab was found guilty of mass murder

India's home ministry has recommended the president reject the clemency plea of Pakistani national Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, who is on death row for his role in the Mumbai attacks.

An official told the Press Trust of India the plea should be rejected given the "grave crime".

The November 2008 attacks claimed 166 lives. Nine gunmen were also killed.

Qasab was convicted of murder and other crimes in May 2010. The Supreme Court upheld his death sentence in August.

The 60-hour siege of Mumbai began on 26 November 2008, targeting luxury hotels, the main railway station and a Jewish cultural centre.

Qasab and an accomplice carried out the assault on the station, killing 52 people.

Qasab, who is held in Mumbai's Arthur Road jail, appealed for mercy last month.

Not bound

The petition was forwarded to the home ministry by the government of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital.

The home ministry on Tuesday said it had "processed Qasab's mercy petition and submitted it to president for decision".

Legal experts say the president is not bound by the home ministry's advice and there is no time limit within which he has to decide.

However, correspondents say it is unlikely that the president will go against the recommendation.

There is now huge pressure for the death sentence to be carried out soon, with the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) saying there should be "no delay" in executing Qasab.

But, legal experts say it could still be months before Qasab's sentence can be carried out.

Correspondents say although India retains capital punishment, it is rarely carried out. Since 1995 only one person has been executed, through death by hanging.

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