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Thu, Feb 07, 2008

Three Sentenced To Life In Prison For 1999 Indian Airlines Hijacking

Seven Suspects, Three Rebels Remain At Large

Life terms were handed down this week to three Indian men found guilty in the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines Airbus A300 to Afghanistan, that resulted in the death of one passenger and the release of three pro-Kashmir Islamic rebels.

Abdul Latif, Bhupal Man Damai (also known as Yusaf Nepali), and Dalip Kumar Bhujel were found guilty of abduction, criminal conspiracy and murder. The court ruling indicted the three men, currently in custody for the Kandahar hijacking in December 1999.

Ten people were accused of involvement in the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight 814 on December 24, 1999, in which 179 passengers and 11 crew members were held hostage for one week. One passenger was mortally wounded from knife wounds received during the ordeal, enforcing the verdict of murder.

The three men charged have been in custody for eight years, while the other seven suspects remain at large. "It's a job half done," Central Bureau of Investigation director Vijay Shanker commented to Agence-France Presse.

Defense council plans to appeal the ruling to higher courts, claiming the verdict was given based on allegations.

According to news reports, the flight from Kathmandu to New Delhi was hijacked and taken to Amritsar, Lahore, and Dubai before making a final landing in Afghanistan's Kandahar. The hijackers used threats of violence against the passengers to persuade the commander to divert for fuel stops on the way to Kandahar.

The hostages were ultimately released in an exchange with the Indian government, which negotiated the release of three terrorists on December 31, 1999.



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