Ahmedabad: A special court here on Monday convicted 23 people for their role in the Ode village massacre case of 2002 and acquitted another 23 for the want of evidence.
The quantum of punishment will be announced by the special court on April 12.
Today’s verdict comes nearly a decade after 23 people were burnt to death by a riotous mob of over 1500 people on March 1, 2002 at Ode village in Anand district of Gujarat.
Special court judge PB Singh delivered verdict against 47 people, who were accused in the case. The Ode massacre was one amongst the nine post-Godhra riot cases investigated by the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT).
The massacre took place after 59 karsevaks were charred to death in the fire that broke out in the S6 compartment of Sabarmati Express train at Godhra railway station on February 27, 2002.
The case was first investigated by the local police but, later, it was handed over to the Supreme Court-appointed SIT, which filed a charge-sheet against 47 accused in the case. One of the accused died during trial while two others fled abroad after getting bail and have been evading trial.
The SIT has urged the court to place the incident in the rarest of the rare category. It is, therefore, likely to seek capital punishment or life sentence for the accused who were allegedly actively involved in the massacre.
Out of the 10 riot cases investigated by the SIT on the instructions of the Apex Court, this would be the third in which a judgment will be given.
Last year, the special courts set up for trial of the riot cases had pronounced judgment in the Sabarmati Express train carnage case and the Sardarpura riot case of Mehsana district.
In the Ode case, special prosecutor PN Parmar had earlier argued on behalf of the SIT that the complicity of the accused in the case had been established from the evidences on record and eyewitness accounts, in addition to the scientific and medical evidence.
He had further argued that the court should look at the gravity of the offence in which nine children were among the 23 innocent people killed by the mob.