A special court here today awarded life imprisonment to nine people in the 2002 Ode village riots case,where three people of the minority community were burnt alive.
Special court judge R M Sarin convicted the nine accused under charges of murder,rioting and criminal conspiracy and awarded life imprisonment to them.
The court also awarded six months imprisonment to one accused who has been convicted for voluntarily causing hurt to the victims.
The court acquitted 17 people saying they were not involved in the case while 13 others were given the benefit of doubt.
Three Muslims were killed in Malva Bhagol area of Ode village on March 1,2002 during state-wide reports as a fallout of the Godhra train burning on February 27 that year.
There were 41 accused in the case against whom charges were framed on the complaint of one Rehana Yusufbhai Vohra but one of them had died during the trial. Those killed in the incident were Ayesha Vohra,Nuriben Vohra and Kaderbhai Vohra.
During the trial,the court had examined 67 witnesses and 98 documentary evidence were put up before the court.
This is the second case in the village for which the court has given its verdict. In the first case,another court had sentenced 18 people to life imprisonment while awarding seven years jail to five others,in connection with massacre of 23 persons in Ode village during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
The case was probed by the Supreme Court appointed special investigation team headed by former CBI director R K Raghavan.
Out of the 67 witnesses examined by the court,16 had turned hostile.
The court has also imposed a fine of Rs 21,500 on each of nine accused convicted for murder while Rs 500 on the one convicted for causing hurt.
Public prosecutor B C Trivedi said the court has accepted criminal conspiracy charges against the convicts in the case in its more than 470-page judgement.
They had demanded capital punishment for all the nine people who were convicted in the case,however,the court did not accept their demand but has given life imprisonment to them,he said,adding that they will decided about challenging the lower court decision of acquitting 30 people in the high court after going through the judgement.
Meanwhile,lawyer for the accused,V K Patel,said there were many loopholes in the investigations,and witnesses had also made contradictory statements.
“It seems that the court has relied on eyewitness account to give this judgement,” Patel said.
He said they will definitely challenge the case in the higher forums.
Those convicted by the court are Harish Patel,Vasant Patel,Lala alias Nilesh Patel,Tina alias Mahesh Patel,Mimesh Patel,Prakash alias Pako Patel,Ritesh Patel,Ashok Patel and Kirit Patel.
Out of the nine cases probed by the SIT headed by former CBI director R K Raghavan,judgements have been pronounced in two other cases also,including the Godhra train burning incident where 11 people were awarded death sentence and 20 were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The second case was that of Sardarpura village in Mehsana district where 31 persons were awarded life term and 42 others were acquitted.