India Convicts 23 for 2002 Deadly Religious Riots in Gujarat

Posted April 9th, 2012 at 5:50 pm (UTC-5)
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A court in India has convicted 23 people in connection with the killing of nearly two dozen Muslims during religious riots that swept through the western state of Gujarat in 2002.

The court on Monday found the 23 suspects guilty of setting fire to a house in Gujarat's Ode village where Muslim families had taken refuge from rioting mobs. Twenty-three people — including women and children — perished in the blaze.

The court acquitted 23 other suspects for lack of evidence in connection with the massacre. Most of those who stood trial were Hindus.

The violence erupted after a train fire, blamed on Muslims, killed 60 Hindu pilgrims. Towns and villages in Gujarat were convulsed with riots that targeted Muslim homes and neighborhoods. About 1,000 Muslims died in the violence.

The sentences for those convicted will be announced at a later date. Defense lawyers say they will appeal the verdict.

The massacre in Ode village is one of nine incidents into which India's Supreme Court has ordered a special investigation following allegations that the Gujarat police were not impartial in their probe into the riots.

Monday's verdict was the third judgment to be handed down in connection with the riots. In two previous cases last year, 31 people were sentenced for burning 39 Muslims to death, while 31 Muslims were found guilty of setting fire to the train that killed the Hindu pilgrims.