A special court on Friday awarded life sentence to nine persons and sent one other to prison for six months for killing of three Muslims including two women in Ode village of Anand on March 1, 2002 during the communal riots a decade ago.
Anand district additional sessions Judge R M Sareen hearing the case acquitted 30 other accused. Out of these 30, the court found no evidence against 17, while 13 were given benefit of doubt.
Nine persons convicted for life term were found guilty of murder and criminal conspiracy to murder the victims, besides rioting and unlawful assembly. The court imposed a fine of Rs 21,500 on each of the nine accused. While the one with six month sentence was charged for rioting and causing hurt and fined Rs 500.
This is the third case of the 2002 riots at Ode village, probed by the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), where the court will pronounce verdict.
According to details of this case, during communal violence that broke out in Ode village of Anand after the Godhra train burning incident on February 27, 2002, three persons including two women were burnt to death by a mob in Malav Bhagol area of Ode village in Anand on March 1, 2002. But the FIR in the matter was registered on March 5, after some of the victims reported the incident while in relief camp. Based on the FIR initially 43 persons were arrested, out of which two fled out of India after they were let out on bail, while four others jumped bail and are still absconding.
Charges were framed against 37 persons but during the trial an application under section 319 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) was filed by some of the victims, following which four more persons were included as accused, taking the number of accused who were tried to 41. However, one of the accused died in February this year and hence the verdict will be pronounced against 40 accused.
According to Special public prosecutor B C Trivedi, over 70 witnesses were examined by the court besides 150 documentary evidences. Trivedi said that the court had accepted his contention that the accused had conspired to burn alive the victims in Malav Bhagol.
On April 12, in an another 2002 riot cases of Ode village where 23 people were burnt to death in Pirwali Bhagol area, a trial court had awarded life sentence to 23 accused and acquitted as many others. While in a case where one person was killed in Suriwali Bhagol area, all 14 accused were let off by the trial court for lack of evidence.