March 02, 2011 2:26:07 AM
Rathin Das | Ahmedabad
Prominent among those sentenced to death is Abdul Razzak Kurkur, the owner of the Aman Guest House where the conspiracy was hatched on the night of February 26, 2002.
Others who have been awarded capital punishment are Bilal Ismail Abdul Majid Sujela, alias Bilal Haji; Ramjani Binyamin Behra, Hasan Ahmed Charkha, alias Lalu; Jabir Binyamin Behra; Mehboob Khalid Chanda, Salim, alias Salman Yusuf Sattar Zarda; Siraj Mohammad Abdul Meda, alias Bala; Irfan Abdul Majid Ganchi Kalandar, Irfan Mohammad Hanif Abdul Gani Pataliya and Mehbub Ahmed Yusuf Hasan, alias Latiko. Terming the incident as “rarest of the rare”, special judge PR Patel ordered the 11 guilty be “hanged by the neck till dead”.
This is perhaps the first case in the country in which 11 people have been awarded capital punishment, special public prosecutor JM Panchal said after the court pronounced the punishment inside Sabarmati Jail. The death penalty will have to be confirmed by the high court.
On February 22, the court upheld the prosecution’s allegations that the Godhra train inferno was the result of a pre-planned conspiracy and convicted 31 accused and acquitted 63 others.
Emerging from the courtroom after the verdict, special public prosecutor JM Panchal said those sentenced to life imprisonment would serve their terms concurrently as they have been pronounced guilty for as many as 23 types of crime, ranging from murder, attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy to illegal assembly, illegal procurement of petrol and its transportation. However, the last nine years already spent in the prison would be considered for deduction for those sentenced to life imprisonment.
Panchal said that details of specific reasons for the sentences awarded to each convict can be given only after studying the certified copy of the 900-page judgement. The trial, interrupted several times over the last nine years due to various court orders, was conducted inside the Sabarmati Central Jail because of security and logistic reasons.
Of the total 134 booked for the crime, 16 are still absconding while 14 were released due to lack of evidence and five died in jail. Charges were framed against 94 and 253 witnesses were examined during the trial which finally began in June 2009.