Sentencing in Khairlanji murder case tomorrow

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Bhandara, Maharashtra, Sep 23 (UNI) A local court will tomorrow pronounce punishment to the eight people held guilty for the gruesome killing of four members of a Dalit family at village Khairlanji in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra about two years ago.

Last Saturday, First Ad Hoc Judge and First Additional Sessions Judge S S Das, who is hearing the case, set the date after hearing arguments on the quantum of punishment.

The prosecution has sought capital punishment for the guilty, saying it was a 'rarest of rare' case and the murders had been carried out with extreme cruelty, while the defence has pleaded for leniency, saying the guilty were not hardcore criminals.

On September 15, Judge Das had held eight of the 11 accused guilty and acquitted the three others in the case.

On the night of September 29, 2006, Surekha Bhotmange (45) and her three children -- Priyanka (18), Roshan (23) and Sudhir (21) -- were lynched by a mob over a land dispute. The head of the family, Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, however, managed to escape and survived.

The police had arrested 47 people during the investigation into the incident. The probe was later handed over to the CBI, which filed a chargesheet against 11 people, while the remaining 36 were released as no charges were brought against them. Following the killings, there had been widespread violence in several places of Vidarbha, including Nagpur, Yavatmal and Amravati.

Meanwhile, Judge Das yesterday sentenced Mahadeo Zanzad, a prosecution witness who turned hostile during deposition, to three months' rigorous imprisonment and also imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on him.

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