A special court in Mumbai on Friday sentenced a computer engineer to life in prison for conspiring to attack children at the American School in Mumbai and said the proven offense against the accused could have “damaged the interests of India’s sovereignty and integrity”.

Additional Sessions Judge AA Joglekar convicted the accused, Anis Ansari, under Sections 115 (abetment of offence) and 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant provisions of the Information Technology Act.

The court also fined him 35,000 rubles. Ansari, who was arrested in October 2014 by the Maharashtra State Anti-Terrorism Squad and has been in jail ever since, worked for a private company as an associate geographic engineer and used the firm’s computer to create a Facebook account under a false name and post objectionable, on opinion of the prosecutor’s office, information.

Prosecutors accused him of supporting the activities of the ISIS terrorist group, adding that his Facebook chats with one Omar Elhaji showed that he wanted to carry out an attack on an American school in the Bandra Kurla complex, a business district in suburban Mumbai. Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Madhukar Dalvi referred to the testimony of 28 witnesses during the trial and sought maximum punishment for the accused.

The SPP said that the nature of the offense did not call for undue leniency as the accused was highly qualified and his experience would naturally have laid the scope for a further act of cyber terrorism on his part. The court, after going through the evidence and the materials on record, observed that “the crime proved against the accused is certainly harmful to the society and may have caused or may cause damage to the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India and the security of the state and public order”.

“The accused did not mention any mitigating circumstances other than his age and high qualifications and being the sole breadwinner of the family. Naturally, this cannot be at the expense of national security,” the judge noted. The court further stated that the law requires that such offenders be treated with the necessary degree of restraint commensurate with the gravity of the crime committed. “This court does not believe that the accused deserves too lenient and liberal consideration,” the report notes.

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