V.S. Palaniappan

Punishment ranges from two to nine-year imprisonment

Coimbatore: The Judge of the Special Court for Bomb Blast Cases K. Uthirapathy on Friday awarded sentences to 41 accused in the February 14, 1998 Coimbatore serial blasts case.

The blasts left over 50 dead and more than 250 injured. The prosecuting agency registered cases against 168 (of whom one died in judicial custody and another turned approver). Five more persons are wanted.

The pronouncement of sentences started with the recording of acquittal proceedings in respect of eight accused found not guilty. People’s Democratic Party leader Abdul Nasir Maudany and “Army” K. Raju, both from Kerala, were represented by their counsel Mohammed Sherif and Akbar Ali, who filed a petition seeking to dispense with their presence. The others acquitted were Subair and Mohammed Ashraf of Kerala and Naushad, Sardar alias Saitan, Sivakumar and Akkoji Sivakumar of Tamil Nadu.

Charges

The 41 persons sentenced faced charges other than conspiracy, under the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Arms Act, the Explosive Substances Act and the Tamil Nadu Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act.

For them, the punishment ranged from two to nine-year imprisonment for offences under individual sections. For all charges put together, the maximum sentence awarded was 36 years. The judge ordered that the sentences would run concurrently, thus practically bringing the sentence to a minimum of seven years and a maximum of nine years. After setting off the trial period against the conviction under Section 428 of the Criminal Procedure Code, all of them were released. The court said copies of the verdict would be given to them when delivery of judgment was completed for the last accused.

Thirty-five accused were fined Rs 1,000; in default they would undergo one-month simple imprisonment which would be set off against the trial period.

Mr. Uthirapathy posted to October 3 hearing of defence arguments on behalf of those found guilty of major charges, and said the court would resume pronouncement of sentences on October 8.

More In: Today's Paper