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SC stay on Aftab death

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the death sentence awarded by Calcutta High Court to Aftab Ansari, the key accused in the American Center attack.

A two-judge vacation bench of the apex court also issued notices on Ansari’s appeal against his conviction and sentence.

Ansari was awarded death on two counts — waging war against the state and possession of prohibited weapons. He has claimed that a trial court and the high court sentenced him to death on the basis of circumstantial evidence.

Md Jamiluddin Nasir, the other accused who was awarded death for the 2002 attack, had also appealed against his sentence. The Supreme Court stayed his sentence earlier in the month.

Two motorcycle-borne men had opened fire at the American Center on January 22, 2002, killing six policemen and injuring 14. The police had filed a case against nine persons in the case.

Both Ansari and Nasir were awarded death by the trial court on April 26, 2005. The sentences were confirmed by Calcutta High Court on February 5, 2010.

The apex court bench also issued notices on a state appeal filed against the lighter sentences awarded to five other accused in the case.

Ansari’s lawyer argued that while shooting public servants was a heinous offence, it did not amount to waging war against the state.

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