Suri: A total of 44 CPI(M) supporters and local leaders were on Thursday sentenced to life imprisonment for the killing of 11 Trinamool Congress supporters, who were landless farmers, at Suchpur village in Birbhum district in July 2000.
Additional district and sessions judge Biswanath Konar who had convicted the 44 yesterday under sections 302 (murder), 148 (rioting with deadly weapons) and 149 (unlawful assembly) handed down the sentence in a packed courtroom.
Among those convicted were Nitya Narayan Chatterjee, former CPI(M) zila parishad member who led the attackers and Ramprasad Ghosh a district committee member of the Marxist party.
Another 23 were acquitted, five were absconding and five had died in the course of the trial.
According to prosecution, the victims were brutally hacked and beaten to death at Suchpur in the Nanoor police station area on July 27, 2000.
An FIR was lodged at Nanoor police station against 82 CPI-M men and leaders.
The chargesheet was submitted by Nanoor police in August 2001 and the trial began in 2002.
Thirty-two witnesses gave statements before the court, including prime witness Abdul Khalek of Trinamool Congress.
When Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee became the Railway Minister in 2000, she had announced jobs for the kin of the victims in her ministry.