Indian court finds Gujarat rioters guilty of killings

Rioting in Gujarat in 2002 Gujarat's authorities were criticised for not doing enough to stop the riots

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A court in India has found 23 people guilty of killing Muslims in religious riots in Gujarat state 10 years ago.

Twenty-three other defendants were acquitted and one other died during the trial. Most of the defendants were Hindus.

They were accused of burning 23 Muslims to death in a house where they had taken shelter from rioting mobs.

More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died when riots erupted after a train fire killed 60 Hindu pilgrims in 2002.

It was one of India's worst outbreaks of religious violence in recent years.

Muslims were blamed for starting the train fire, and Hindu mobs eager for revenge went on the rampage through Muslim neighbourhoods in towns and villages across Gujarat in three days of violence following the incident.

'Ode Massacre'

The case refers to killings that took place in Ode village on 1 March, 2002 a few days after the Godhra train deaths.

A mob of around 2,000 people went through the village targeting Muslim homes and killed 23 Muslims, mostly women and children, who had taken shelter in one house.

The Ode massacre is the third verdict out of 10 key incidents that took place during the riots that is being probed by an independent Special Investigating Team (SIT) set up in 2008 after a Supreme Court directive.

The 47 accused were charged with murder, conspiracy, rioting, unlawful assembly, attempt to murder and destruction of evidence by the SIT.

Sentencing is expected to be announced later this week.

In November 2011, a court sentenced 31 people for burning to death 33 Muslims near Sardarpura village in Gujarat.

Last February a special court in the state found 31 people guilty of setting fire to the passenger train in the town of Godhra. It acquitted 63 other people of conspiracy and murder.

Gujarat's authorities have been accused of not doing enough to stop the riots.

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