India: court convicts 31 in 2002 Gujarat riots

A court in the Indian state of Gujarat on Nov. 10 convicted 31 people of crimes committed during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The accused were convicted of murder, arson and rioting. Charges of criminal conspiracy were dropped by the court. All 31 of the convicted were sentenced to life in prison and required to pay a fine. The court acquitted 42 other defendants. The riots stemmed from anger over the death of 60 Hindus in a fire aboard a train. Violence targeting Muslims lasted three days, leaving more than 1,000 dead. Teesta Setalvad, an activist working on behalf of the riot victims said she welcomed the sentences but expressed disappointment that the investigation team look into a possible conspiracy behind the riots.

The trial comes two years after India's National Human Rights Commission filed a case with the Supreme Court in which it took issue with the lack of prosecutions in the case. The Supreme Court ordered an investigation into the conduct of the trial as well as the protection of witnesses. In 2004 Human Rights Watch issued a report urging witness protection for those involved in the case after allegations of threats and pressure from the state arose.

From Jurist, Nov. 9. Used with permission.