The Kozhikode Special Additional Sessions Court (Marad cases) here on Thursday acquitted all the 16 accused involved in the murder of the Thekkethodia Kunjumon Unni, 60, during the communal conflagration on the sea side village of Marad in January 2002.

Writing the judgment, the special court judge, Sophy Thomas exonerated the accused of all charges including Section 143 ( rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with weapons), 302 ( murder) , 153-A( promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) read with 149 ( of the Indian Penal Code). “The prosecution failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt and so they are liable to be acquitted,” the court said.

Seven of those acquitted are now undergoing life imprisonment at the Kannur Central Prison in connection with the massacre of nine persons on the beach on May 2, 2003.

According to the prosecution, the accused had formed themselves into an unlawful assembly and killed Kunjumon at around 9 p.m. on January 3, 2002. The communal riots at Marad on January 3 and 4, 2002, had claimed the lives of five persons, injured several people and properties worth crores of rupees destroyed.

The court examined 24 witnesses, 21 documents and 12 material objects.