SLUG: 2-304889 Pakistan / Terror
TITLE=PAKISTAN / TERROR L-ONLY
INTRO: A Pakistani court has sentenced three men to death for orchestrating a suicide car-bombing last year, which killed 11 French engineers in the port city of Karachi. V-O-A's Michael Kitchen reports that the defense team is already planning an appeal.
TEXT: A special anti-terrorism court sentenced two Islamic militants to death for directing a fatal car-bombing in Karachi. A third militant was sentenced to death in absentia.
The suicide bombing took place in May in front of Karachi's Sheraton hotel, where a car packed with explosives rammed a bus carrying 11 French engineers.
The engineers, visiting Pakistan to offer their expertise on submarine building, died in the explosion, along with two Pakistanis and the bomber.
The court Monday, convening behind closed doors in a Karachi jail compound for security reasons, sentenced the militants to hang.
But defense lawyer M-R Sayyad says the prosecution's case was weak, and that the accused were not given the presumption of innocence.
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The evidence . was lacking in confidence. I was hoping that the verdict must be in favor of the accused.
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Mr. Sayyad says he will file an appeal and is optimistic about the accused men's chances.
The two men convicted in court maintain they are innocent.
Reports link the accused to an anti-Western extremist movement called the Harakt ul-Mujahideen al-Almi.
Some observers say the group is an offshoot of the banned Harakat ul-Mujahideen, a Kashmiri militant group listed by the United States as a terrorist organization. Others believe the movement is a new grouping, created in opposition to U-S-Pakistani cooperation in the war on terror. (Signed)
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