NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a final appeal for mercy by the only person to be sentenced to death for a series of bombings in Mumbai in 1993, a day before he was due to be executed.
A three-judge panel rejected the last-minute petition, clearing the last judicial barrier to executing Yakub Memon just hours before he was due to be hanged in Nagpur jail on Thursday, his 53rd birthday.
The governor of Maharashtra state, whose capital is Mumbai, rejected an appeal for mercy, his office said. The fate of another plea for mercy submitted to Indian President Pranab Mukherjee was not immediately clear.
Memon was convicted as the "driving spirit" behind the blasts that killed at least 257 people at separate landmarks in the financial capital, including the Bombay Stock Exchange, a popular cinema and two crowded markets.
The case has aroused controversy because police considered Memon's brother, "Tiger" Memon, and mafia don Dawood Ibrahim to be the main masterminds behind the attacks that avenged the destruction of an ancient mosque by Hindu zealots in 1992.
Both remain in hiding.
Memon's sentencing has also stirred a public debate in India, with supporters saying the death sentence is too harsh given he helped the investigating agencies crack India's deadliest bomb attack case.
(Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty and Neha Dasgupta; Writing by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Douglas Busvine)