TWO men have been sentenced to death by an Indian court and two others to life imprisonment for a series of bombings that ripped through Mumbai 24 years ago, killing 257 and injuring more than 700 others.

Feroz Khan and Taher Merchant were sentenced to death, while Abu Salem and Karimullah Khan were jailed for life. A fifth man Riyaz Siddiqui, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The five were convicted of carrying out a criminal conspiracy and murder in 1993 by planting a dozen powerful bombs in cars, scooters and suitcases around India’s financial capital.

This was the second trial relating to the bombings. The first was a marathon and ended in 2007 with more than 100 people convicted – 11 of them sentenced to death and the rest to various prison terms.

One suspect, Yakub Memon, was hanged in 2015 after being convicted of plotting and financing the bombings.

However, most of the cases are still winding their way through the legal system because of appeals and commutations of sentences.

Ujjwal Nikam, the main prosecutor, told the court he could not ask for a death sentence for Abu Salem, a prime suspect, because he was extradited from Portugal to India in 2005 – only after the Indian Government pledged he would not be given the death penalty, a key requirement in European extradition proceedings.

He fled India after the bombings, before being arrested by police in Portugal.

The Mumbai court sentenced Salem to life in prison after finding him guilty of transporting weapons from Gujarat state to Mumbai ahead of the blasts.

The armoury included assault rifles, ammunition and hand grenades, as well as almost three tonnes of research and development explosive RDX – cyclotrimethylene trinitramine.

The Mumbai blasts were the first occasion since the Second World War that this was used on such a scale.

Prosecutors said the bombings were an act of revenge for the demolition of a 16th-century mosque by Hindu nationalists in northern India in 1992. The demolition triggered religious riots in parts of India, leaving more than 800 dead, both Hindus and Muslims.

A number of prominent sites in Mumbai were targeted in the blasts. They included the stock exchange, the Air India building, hotels, a cinema and shopping bazaars.

Prosecutors said the attack was masterminded by Memon’s brother – underworld kingpin Dawood Ibrahim.

India accused Pakistan of sheltering Ibrahim, a charge Islamabad has denied. India said he had been living in Karachi, Pakistan’s financial hub, after fleeing from Mumbai, and has asked Pakistan to hand him over to face trial in India.

Lawyers for the convicted men have not yet commented on whether or not they will appeal against the sentences.

In June a court ruled that the five were guilty of involvement in the blasts. A sixth man, also found guilty at the time, died in prison before being sentenced.

A total of seven men had faced multiple charges, including criminal conspiracy, waging war against the Indian Government and murder, but all were acquitted of “waging war against the nation”.

The court had earlier heard that Salem was one of the main conspirators and had delivered three AK-56 rifles and ammunition and hand grenades to actor Sanjay Dutt, who was jailed for five years for illegally possessing and destroying a rifle. He was released early for “good conduct”,

In June, Mumbai’s High Court as the state government of Maharashtra to explain why he had been released eight months before his sentence ended.

Two judges asked the government to detail the “parameters considered, and the procedures followed” ahead of his release.

These asked if India’s Deputy Inspector General of police was consulted, or if the jail superintendent sent his recommendation directly to the governor.

They added: “Also, how did the authorities assess that Dutt’s conduct was good? When did they get the time to make such assessment when he was out on parole half the time?”