Coimbatore, Sep 28 (UNI) A Special Court today sentenced 41 accused to imprisonment and acquitted eight others, including Kerala-based Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Abdul Nasser Maudhany, in the sensational 1998 serial bomb blasts case.
The 41 accused had been released on bail as they were found guilty of minor charges, including promoting communal hatred and unlawful assembly with deadly weapons, attempt to murder and manufacturing and possession of explosives for which they would get a maximum of nine years in prison.
One of the accused was punished for 36 years, 25 persons were handed over sentences of over 30 years and the remaining 15 accused got over ten years each.
However, Special Court Judge K Uthirapathy informed the sentences would run concurrently.
Since they had been in prison for over nine years, the judge released all the accused.
The judge also announced the pronouncement of sentences for 70 persons convicted of major charges like Sec 120 B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code will start from October 15.
Further, pronouncement of sentence for the 47 other persons convicted of minor changes would continue on October eight next, he said.
However, the Defence arguments for those covicted of major charges would continue on October three next.
On August one, Al-Umma Founder S A Basha and 152 others were found guilty in the serial bomb blasts case by the Special Court her.
While, Mr Maudhany and seven others were acquitted, the verdict in respect of five other accused was deferred for modification of the charges against them.
The blasts on February 14, 1998, timed to coincide with the visit of Bharatiya Janata Party Leader L K Advani to the city for electioneering, left 58 persons dead and more than 250 injured.
The court found 69 accused guilty of the offence under Section 120-B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The other charge proved against some of the accused was under Section 153 A (1) of the IPC (promoting communal hatred between different groups on grounds of religion).
Eighty-four persons were found guilty of the charges under the Explosive Substances Act, the Arms Act and the Tamil Nadu Properties (Prevention of Damages and Loss) Act.
Of the 168 arrested, Riaz-ur-Rehman turned approver and Mohammed Dasthagir died in custody.
The 166 accused included Al-Umma General Secretary Mohammed Ansari, Tajudeen, Nawab Khan (Basha's brother), Bashid, Abdul Ozir, Siddiq Ali (Basha's son), Zakir Hussain and five members of a suicide squad.
The judge held all the five charges against Mr Maudhany had not been proved.