The special SIT court convicted 24 accused in 2002 post-Godhra riots case of Gulbarg Society in which 69 persons, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed. 36 other people, who faced the trail, were acquitted. Among the acquitted one is sitting BJP corporator Vipin Patel.
Special Court Judge PB Desai delivered the judgement on Thursday eight months after the trial concluded on September 22, 2015. The hearing for quantum of punishement will take place on June 6.
The matter was monitored by the Supreme Court, which had directed the SIT court to give its verdict by May 31.
In total, 66 people were named by the SIT in the case, of which nine have already behind bars since 14 years, while others were out on bail. Five of the accused died during the course of trial, while one still remains missing.
One of the accused Vipin Patel, a sitting BJP corporator from Asarva seat, has been acquitted by the court. He was also the corporator in 2002 when the massacre happened and have since won elections for the fourth consecutive time.
In a related development, the SIT court had last week turned down pleas moved by two accused–Narayan Tank and Babu Rathod–to conduct narco analysis and brain mapping tests on them to prove their innocence. The court maintained that it was not required when the verdict was imminent.
During the trial, riots victim’s lawyer had argued that the massacre was a pre-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by the accused to kill minority community members of the Gulberg Society.
On the other hand, the defence counsel had refuted the conspiracy theory of prosecution and claimed that the mob resorted to violence only after slain Congress MP Eshan Jafri fired several rounds on them.
The Gulberg Society case is one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court appointed SIT.
The incident had taken place a day after S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station on February 2002, where in 58 people were killed.
(With inputs from the PTI)