In a historic judgment, an Indian court on Friday sentenced 38 people to death over a string of bomb blasts in 2008 in Ahmedabad that killed dozens.
The court had on February 8 convicted 49 people over the coordinated attacks that killed 56 people as shrapnel ripped through markets, buses and other public places in Gujarat’s commercial hub.
For the families of the victims, the court awarded a compensation of Rs 100,000 each, Rs 50,000 for the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for the minor injured.
The court has also fined the convicts with a total of Rs 285,000.
An Islamist group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility, saying the blasts were revenge for 2002 religious riots in Gujarat that left some 1,000 people dead.
“Special court judge A R Patel awarded death sentence to 38 out of the 49 convicted,” public prosecutor Amit Patel said.
“Eleven of the convicted were sentenced to life imprisonment till death… The court has considered the case as rarest of the rare,” he said.
The convicted were all found guilty of murder and criminal conspiracy. Nearly 80 people were charged but 28 were acquitted.
The marathon trial lasted over a decade, with more than 1,100 witnesses called to testify.
It was dragged out by procedural delays, including a legal battle by four of the accused to retract confessions.
Police also foiled a 2013 attempt by more than a dozen of the defendants to tunnel their way out of jail using food plates as digging tools.
All 77 accused have been held in custody for years, with the exception of one who was bailed after a schizophrenia diagnosis.
India was rocked by several lethal bomb attacks in 2008 claimed by the Indian Mujahideen group – with dozens killed in the capital New Delhi and the tourist city of Jaipur.
In November of that year, 166 people were killed by gunmen armed with explosive devices, in a coordinated assault on hotels and other high-profile targets in Mumbai that was blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
Capital punishment remains an integral part of the Indian criminal justice system.
The number of prisoners on death row at the end of 2021 stood at 488, according to a report by Project 39A, a law reforms advocacy group.
The last execution was in March 2020, when four men convicted of the rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi were hanged.