Threat of more terror if Pakistani gets death penalty

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The Independent Online
A Pakistani convicted of killing CIA workers faces the death penalty. The case has heightened anti-American feeling in Pakistan, where extremists killed four American oil executives and their driver this week and are threatening to kill more.

A Pakistani man who shot CIA workers in anger over American treatment of Muslims is a merciless killer who is proud of the crime and deserves to die for it, a prosecutor said.

Under heavy security, jurors deliberated yesterday on whether to recommend the death penalty for Mir Aimal Kasi for killing CIA communications analyst Frank Darling in an ambush outside the spy agency headquarters on 25 January 1993. The jury convicted Kasi of capital murder in Darling's death. After returning the verdict, however, the jury members sent a note to Judge J Howe Brown expressing fear for their safety. The note came to light in court this week, after four US oil company employees were gunned down in an ambush in Karachi, Pakistan.

A group sympathetic to Kasi claimed responsibility for the killings and promised more if Kasi is sentenced to death.

Outside the courthouse, Kasi's older brother, Mir Weis Kasi, stood in a steady rain and condemned the Karachi killings as the work of barbarous "hidden forces." He said speculation that the killings are related to Kasi's family "are an attempt to prejudice the jury, the court and the American public".

Judge Brown ordered the jury to be isolated in an unidentified hotel and kept under armed guard. They returned on Thursday under heavy police escort. The authorities said the jury has not been threatened, however, and that they had been sequestered to shield them from intense international publicity about the case.

According to trial testimony, Kasi made several confessions, each time saying the killing was vengeance for American meddling in Muslim countries.

A clinical psychologist testified that Kasi told him his only regret was not dying himself in a shootout with FBI agents who arrested him in Pakistan in June. "It's hard to find a man who is less unhappy about what he did than this man," he said.

Darling, 28, warned his wife to duck but could not escape himself as Kasi fired an AK-47 through the window of a car stopped at traffic lights. Darling's widow testified that she looked up to see part of her husband's head blown away.

Defence lawyer Judith Barger said Mr Kasi, 33, should get life in prison because the killing was partly explained by brain damage Kasi suffered at birth. Doctors testified for the defence that the frontal lobe of Kasi's brain shows evidence of damage.

Doctors who testified for the prosecution confirmed this, but said that it was not responsible for Kasi's behaviour.

- AP, Fairfax, Virginia

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