x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Bus driver who killed nine on rampage sentenced to death

Rush-hour wrecking spree through crowded streets of Pune killed nine and injured 37 people.

MUMBAI // An Indian bus driver who killed nine people in a rampage through the crowded streets of the city of Pune last year was sentenced to death yesterday.

Santosh Mane, 30, took the bus from a depot last January and then sped through the city, crashing into motorists, pedestrians and food stalls during a terrifying 30-minute wrecking spree in the morning rush hour.

During the trial, the driver's lawyer and family pleaded that he was mentally unstable, but the judge dismissed their arguments and found the crime justified the death penalty.

"The accused has committed the murder of nine persons by moving the bus dangerously with the intention and knowledge that the act was so eminently dangerous that it will cause death or bodily harm," the judge said.

Mane, a licensed driver of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, was convicted last week of murder, attempted murder and damage to property by the court in Pune.

The death penalty, handed down in India for the "rarest of rare" crimes, will have to be ratified by a higher court and Mane will have the option to appeal to the president for clemency.

He was caught when members of the public wrestled him from the controls after he rammed into another bus. About 40 vehicles were damaged and autorickshaws overturned. The Press Trust of India said that 37 people had been injured by Mane, who had a history of reckless driving.

India rarely carries out executions but recently put to death two men convicted for terror offences. There are more than 400 people on death row and the courts add to their numbers every year.