The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Riot case term

Ahmedabad, Nov. 25: A local court in Kheda today sentenced 12 people to life imprisonment and three others to two years’ rigorous imprisonment for the massacre of 14 Muslims in Ghodasar and Jinger villages during the post-Godhra communal riots, reports our correspondent.

Kheda district and sessions judge C.K. Rane had yesterday found the 15 guilty of the killings, committed on March 3 last year in the villages about 40 km from Ahmedabad. He had reserved the sentence for today while convicting them three days after the Supreme Court asked the Narendra Modi government to respond to a proposal to shift major riot cases out of Gujarat. Forty-eight were acquitted.

In sharp contrast to the controversial Best Bakery case, public prosecutor P. Dhore had argued that the 15 accused deserved the death sentence.

Defence counsel T.R. Vajpayee had contested Dhore’s argument, saying “it was not the rarest of rare cases’’. Today, he said he was not satisfied with the judgment and would appeal against it in the high court. “We challenge the sentence because the witnesses were not genuine, they were all tutored,” Vajpayee claimed.

Karimbhai Mallek, a resident of Kheda district who had set up a relief camp for local riot victims, said he was expecting at least a couple of the accused to get the death sentence.

“We are not very happy with the judgment. Nonetheless, we are satisfied. At least, some of the accused have been convicted,” he added.

Sixty-four people had been arrested in connection with the massacre of the 14 in the fields of the villages.

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