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After more than a decade, a special court finally sentenced two Harkat-ul-jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) terrorists to life imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 6 lakh each.

On August 23, the Special CBI Judge Babita Rani, who conducted the trial at the Lucknow district jail, had held them guilty in a case relating to bomb blasts in Lucknow court on November 23, 2007. Similar blasts had taken place in Faizabad and Varanasi on the same day in which several people were killed.

The special judge concluded that Mohammad Tariq Qasmi, who hails from Azamgarh and Mohammad Akhtar, resident of Ramban in Jammu and Kashmir, were guilty of the terror attack.

Both the accused were charged with sedition, criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder under the IPC and were also booked under the Explosive Substance Act And Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act.

As many as 44 witnesses were produced by the prosecution in support of chargesheets against the accused during the 10-year long trial.

The special CBI judge observed that the accused had not only carried out terror attack on the judiciary but also conspired to wage a war against the country. She had fixed August 27 for arguments on awarding sentence.

During argument on the sentence, the Joint Director ATS S.C. Singh and senior Public Prosecutor A.K. Ojha had demanded death penalty for both HUJI terrorists. The counsels of the accused Furqan Khan and Arif Ali, however, pleaded for leniency as they have already served 11 years in jail.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the Special Judge on Monday awarded  life imprisonment sentence to both the HUJI terrorists and imposed a fine of Rs 6 lakh each.

Khalid Mohammad, the third accused, had died during the trial. Sajjadur Rehman, another accused, was let off earlier.

Several people had died in serial blasts in Faizabad and Varanasi while no casualty was reported in Lucknow in court compound. A live bomb tied with a cycle was also recovered from the spot.

The STF had arrested Tariq from Rani kI Sarai in Azamgarh on December 22 2007. On information provided by him, the STF had held Mohd Akhtar on December 27 2007. They were found operatives of HUJI. The STF had later transferred the case to the ATS which had filed the chargesheets against the accused in April 2008.

TERROR ATTACK

The special CBI judge observed that the accused had not only carried out terror attack on the judiciary but also conspired to wage a war against the country. Ojha had demanded death penalty for both. The counsels of the accused, however, pleaded for leniency as they have served 11 years in jail.

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