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Indian court sentences Gujarat rioters to life

  • 4-12-2012

A court in India has sentenced 18 people to life imprisonment for the murder of Muslims in religious riots in Gujarat state 10 years ago.

Five others were given seven years and another 23 were acquitted earlier.

The group were found guilty of burning 23 Muslims to death in a house where they had taken shelter from rioting mobs in the village of Ode.

More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died when riots erupted after a train fire killed 60 Hindu pilgrims in 2002.

It was one of India's worst outbreaks of religious violence in recent years.

Muslims were blamed for starting the train fire, and Hindu mobs eager for revenge went on the rampage through Muslim neighbourhoods in towns and villages across Gujarat in three days of violence following the incident.

A lawyer for the convicted said they will appeal in a higher court.

Special investigation

The case refers to killings that took place in Ode village on 1 March, 2002 a few days after the Godhra train deaths.

A mob of around 2,000 people went through the village targeting Muslim homes. A house where 23 Muslims, mostly women and children, had taken shelter was set alight.

The Ode massacre is the third verdict to result from 10 key incidents that took place during the riots that are being probed by an independent Special Investigating Team (SIT) set up in 2008 after a Supreme Court directive.

Forty-seven people in Ode were charged with murder, conspiracy, rioting, unlawful assembly, attempt to murder and destruction of evidence by the SIT. One defendant died during the trial.

In November 2011, a court sentenced 31 people for burning to death 33 Muslims near Sardarpura village in Gujarat.

And in February last year, a special court in the state found 31 people guilty of setting fire to the passenger train full of Hindu pilgrims in the town of Godhra. It acquitted 63 other people of conspiracy and murder.

Gujarat's authorities have been accused of not doing enough to stop the riots.

Read More...........
Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2012 BBC

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