Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday commuted, to life imprisonment, the death sentence of IM operative Mirza Himayat Baig after acquitting him any involvement in the February 13, 2010 German Bakery blast but upholding his conviction for possessing explosives and forged documents.
Baig was the lone accused who was convicted for the blast at the popular eatery near the Osho Ashram in Pune's fashionable Koregaon Park area and much frequented by the young crowd, in which 17 people, including five foreigners, were killed. Another 60 were injured including 12 foreigners.
A division bench of Justice NH Patil and Justice SB Shukre overturned the Pune sessions court verdict of April 18, 2013 sentencing him to death.
"Aapko phaansi ki sazaa se bari kiya jata hai (your sentence of hanging has been remitted)," the bench said as an emotional Baig folded his hands in gratitude.
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Baig, the sole Indian Mujahiddeen operative caught in the blast case, had appealed against the capital punishment.
"Baig has been totally absolved of all the major charges including conspiracy, murder, attempt to murder and other serious charges pertaining to the German Bakery blast," his lawyer A Rehman told IANS shortly after the ruling.
"He has only been convicted under the Explosives Act and for forged documents and awarded a life sentence. This is only the first step for us. We will appeal against the Bombay High Court verdict before the Supreme Court soon. We are confident he will come clear from this too," he added.
Eminent lawyer Ujjwal Nikam said he would not be able to comment on the development without studying the high court order, but said all charges against Baig were proved in the Pune court.
On February 19, 2015, an attempt was made on Baig's life when he was lodged in Pune's Yerawada Central Jail, but he managed to survive.
In view of the threats to his life, he was shifted to the Nagpur Central Jail, through the efforts of various social activists led by Rafi Anjum Inamdar.
He was brought to Mumbai recently in connection with the ongoing trial and lodged in Arthur Road Central Jail, said Inamdar.
Baig, 35, hailing from Beed district of Maharashtra, ran the Global Internet Case in Udgir, adjoining Latur district.
He was reportedly trained in terror acts by Fayyaz Kagzi in Colombo in March 2008, and also trained in Bhatkal, Karnataka.