PROSECUTORS in India sought the death penalty on Monday (6) for 24 Hindus convicted over a massacre during communal riots in 2002.
Judge PB Desai heard submissions from the prosecution as well as lawyers representing the 24 convicted over the killings, before adjourning final sentencing until Thursday (9).
The 24 were found guilty last week of playing a role in the massacre of 69 Muslims who were hacked and burnt to death as they sheltered at a residential complex in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
It was one of the single worst massacres of the week-long violence in the state that left more than 1,000 people dead and thousands injured.
Public prosecutor RC Kodekar told the court on Monday that some of the victims were women and children.
“The crime is rarest of the rare as the victims were hacked to death and then burnt by the accused,” Kodekar said.
“The victims were killed only be- cause they belonged to the minority community,” he added.
“The accused had targeted innocent people, so they must get the maximum punishment prescribed in law,” Kodekar said.
Judge Desai last week convicted 11 people of murder and another 13 of lesser offences following a year-long trial. Another 36 were acquitted for lack of evidence.
The judge also ruled the massacre at the Gulberg Society complex was a spontaneous attack, rejecting claims of a planned conspiracy against Muslims.
Defence lawyer Abhay Bharadwaj said the 24 should receive minimum sentences, given the judge’s rejection of criminal conspiracy.
The violence was triggered by the death of 59 Hindu pilgrims in a train fire on February 27, 2002, that was initially blamed on Muslims.