Gujarat HC upholds sentences of 19 people in Ode riots case

Gujarat HC upholds sentences of 19 people in Ode riots case

The Gujarat High Court on Friday upheld the conviction of 19 people but acquitted three sentenced by a trial court in the 2002 Ode riot case where 23 members of a minority community were burnt alive during the Gujarat riots.

On a set of appeals filed against the trial court order, a bench of Justices Akil Kureshi and B N Karia upheld the life sentence of 14 convicts as well as the seven-year jail terms given to five others.

Three others, who were sentenced to life in prison by the SIT court, were acquitted by the bench.

The convicts who were acquitted are Dilip Patel, Lalji Patel and Natubhai Patel. The high court also upheld the acquittal of 23 others.

A SIT court had, in April 2012, sentenced a total of 23 people, out of the 47 accused, in the case.

It had sentenced 18 of these 23 people to life in prison and five to jail sentences of seven years.

One of the accused, who was convicted for life by the trial court, died while the high court was hearing the appeals. Another accused died while the trial was on in the SIT court.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT), which probed the case, along with the state prosecution and victims, had sought the death penalty for convicts who were awarded life imprisonment and enhanced sentences to those awarded seven-year jail terms.

They had also sought conviction of the 23 people who were acquitted by the trial court.

Twenty-three members of a minority community, nine of them women and as many children, were burnt to death in a house in the Pirwali Bhagol area of Ode town of Anand district by a mob on March 1, 2002.

The deaths took place two days after the Godhra train fire that had triggered a communal conflagration across the state.

The Ode incident was one of the nine cases that were probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT led by former CBI director R K Raghavan.

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