Punit Paranjpe / AFP / Getty Images

India court finds 12 guilty of 2006 Mumbai train bombings

Sentences for defendants, who face life in prison or the death penalty, expected to be handed down next week

Twelve men were convicted Friday for the 2006 bombings of seven Mumbai commuter trains that killed 188 people and wounded more than 800.

Judge Yatin D. Shinde found the defendants — who are believed to be members of the banned Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) — guilty of murder and criminal conspiracy charges and acquitted one person for lack of evidence.

Shinde said he would announce sentences for the defendants on Monday after hearing arguments from the prosecutors and defense attorneys. They face the death penalty or life in prison.

"I am happy that the investigation has been upheld," said K.P. Raghuvanshi, the former head of India's anti-terrorism squad, who investigated the bombings. "The court has appreciated the evidence we presented."

The trial in India's notoriously slow justice system lasted more than seven years. It concluded in August last year, but Judge Yatin D. Shinde took one year to write the verdict.

In this photograph taken on July 11, 2006, Indian railway workers and officials clear debris of the first class compartment of a local train that was ripped open by a bomb blast in Mumbai.
Sebastian D'Souza / AFP / Getty Images

Controversy has also dogged the investigation of the 2006 attacks.

Some of the defendants said they were tortured by police eager to extract confessions on charges that ranged from murder to conspiracy against the state and waging war against the nation. Police have denied these assertions.

Seven bombs exploded within a span of 10 minutes in the evening rush hour on trains in Mumbai, the financial and entertainment capital of India, on July 11, 2006. 

Prosecutors said the conspiracy was hatched by Pakistan's Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and carried out by Lashkar-e-Tayyaba operatives with help from SIMI. Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) was founded in 1990 as a separatist movement in Indian Kashmir.

Azeem Cheema, the Pakistan-based leader of LeT, is believed to be the prime conspirator, but he is still at large. LeT has denied any role, but it has been linked to other bomb attacks in India, including one on parliament in 2001 that brought the mainly Hindu country to the brink of war with Muslim-majority Pakistan.

Relations between India and Pakistan have been soured by a dispute since independence over Kashmir, and India frequently accuses Pakistan of harboring “terrorists” and architects of attacks such as those in Mumbai.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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