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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 May 2007, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Mumbai blasts acquitted set free
A scene from the 1993 Mumbai blast (Pic: Fawzan Husain)
Hundreds were killed or wounded in the blasts
A court in the western Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) has formally set free 23 people acquitted of any role in the country's deadliest bombings.

Twenty of those cleared were in court to receive their release letters. They left custody last year when the judge in the long trial delivered verdicts.

The 100 people he found guilty have still to be sentenced. No date has been set for that process to begin.

The 1993 blasts killed 257 people. More than 700 people were injured.

The bombings are believed to have been carried out by one of the city's notorious underworld crime syndicates, which were then dominated by Muslims.

Their motive is said to have been revenge for religious riots a few months earlier that left more than 2,000 people dead across India, most of them Muslims.

Long trial

The man who is believed to have masterminded the plot, underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, has still not been caught.

India says he and another key suspect, Tiger Memon, are hiding in Pakistan - a charge Pakistan denies.

The prosecution has demanded the death penalty for 44 of those convicted of conspiracy and planting explosives, including three of Memon's brothers.

The prosecution has also demanded maximum sentences for the other accused, including Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt who faces up to 10 years in jail.

Dutt was found guilty of possessing illegal firearms but acquitted of more serious charges related to terrorism.

Most of the accused have been in jail for the past 13 years.

Proceedings have taken so long that 12 of the accused have died and others have been imprisoned for so much longer than their likely sentence that a guilty verdict may still result in them walking free.

Mumbai gripped by Dutt in the dock
28 Nov 06 |  South Asia
Long wait for Mumbai blasts justice
13 Sep 06 |  South Asia
Profile: India's fugitive gangster
12 Sep 06 |  South Asia
In pictures: 1993 Mumbai blasts
12 Sep 06 |  In Pictures

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