20 more sentenced in 1998 blasts case

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Coimbatore, Oct 25: The Special Court hearing the 1998 serial blasts case today sentenced 20 more people, with six of them being handed down double life terms and 12 slapped with 13 years' rigorous imprisonment.

Special Judge K Uthirapathy also sentenced two of the accused to ten years' rigorous imprisonment. All the 20 people were imposed additional sentences of between two to nine years. All the sentences would run concurrently.

Even as the judge pronounced his verdict, two of the accused K Yacub and Sabee, slapped with ten years RI each, turned their backs to the judge and started praying.

To this, Mr Uthirapathy said, ''Though showing the back to the court amounts to contempt of court, they are doing a noble duty of praying to the Almighty. The court does not mind this.'' Seventy people, including Al Umma Founder S A Basha and General Secretary Ansari, have been convicted of serious charges, including criminal conspiracy, murder, rioting besides charges under Explosive Substances Act, Indian Arms Act and Tamil Nadu Properties (Prevention of Damages and Losses) Act.

Yesterday, the judge sentenced 35 people, including 31 who were slapped with life imprisonment.

Banned Al-Umma Founder-Leader S A Basha and Secretary Mohammed Ansari were yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment. While Basha was sentenced to undergo life imprisonment Ansari got double life terms. In addition, Basha would serve three years in prison, while Ansari got sentences between three to nine years totalling 68 years for individual offences. His son Siddiq Ali was handed down two life terms and 48 years RI.

The judge so far had delivered his verdict on 55 people convicted of serious charges.

Of the 168 people arrest in connection with the blasts triggered on February 14, 1998, during the visit of BJP Leader L K Advani, claiming 58 lives and injuring 250, 158 had been convicted and eight others, including Kerala-based PDP Leader Abdul Nasser Maudhany, acquitted as charges against them were not proved.

Another accused Mohammed Dustagir died in custody while Riaz-ur-Rahman turned approver.

Eighty-eight people had already been convicted of minor charges like attempt to murder and possession of explosives and were sentenced to undergo imprisonment for terms ranging from 21 months to nine years.

As they had already served their prison term as undertrials, Judge Uthirapathy ordered their release.


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