The Bombay High Court has refused the CBI's request for the death penalty to three men accused of gang raping Bilkis Bano, a 19-year-old pregnant woman, and killing 14 members of her family during the Gujarat riots of 2002.
A trial court in Mumbai had sentenced all of them to life imprisonment, which the High Court upheld today. Bilkis's mother and sister were among the 14 of her family and 17 people from the village killed by the rioters on March 3, 2002.
Bilkis Bano had identified her rapists. CBI demanded death penalty for Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai and Shailesh Bhatt. Bhatt was the man who killed Bilkis 3-year-old daughter in order to protest Godhra train incident.
The trial was transferred out of Gujarat for the fear that witnesses might be intimidated or influenced.The trial court had in January 2008, convicted 12 people, sentencing them to life imprisonment.