NEW DELHI: An Indian court has sentenced 11 people to life in prison for murder in one of the many deadly Gujarat riots that swept across the western state of Gujarat in 2002, leaving more than 1,000 dead.

Special Court Judge PB Desai on Friday rejected the demand for the death penalty as the prosecution failed to prove the charge of a criminal conspiracy against the defendants.

The judge also sentenced 12 defendants to seven years in prison and one to 10 years in prison in connection with the deadly riot in a Muslim neighbourhood in Ahmadabad, a key city in the state, in which dozens of homes were set on fire and 69 people were killed.

Indian prosecutors sought the death penalty on Monday for 24 Hindus convicted over a massacre in during the Gujarat riots in 2002, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was chief minister of the state.

It was one of the single worst massacres of the week-long violence that left more than 1,000 people dead in total.

Public prosecutor RC Kodekar told the court on Monday 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 told the court.

The judge also ruled the massacre at the Gulbarg Society complex was a spontaneous attack, rejecting claims of a pre-planned conspiracy against Muslims.

The riots have long dogged Modi, who has been accused of turning a blind eye to the violence.

Earlier this month, a special court in Gujarat convicted 24 persons and acquitted 36 accused of the spate of murders in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms, including the gory lynching of former MP Ehsan Jafri. While 11 of the accused were found guilty of murder, 13 were convicted of rioting.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused by rights groups of having turned a blind eye to the violence that swept the state in 2002 and claimed as many as 2,000 lives, and of failing to bring to justice the perpetrators of the killings.

In 2012, an investigation team appointed by India's Supreme Court found no evidence against the former Gujarat chief minister over deadly anti-Muslim riots in the state.



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