Gulbarg Society massacreCounsel for the 24 convicted in the 2002 Gulberg Society massacre, which left 69 people including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri dead, on Thursday sought lenient punishment for those guilty by the court which indicated that it will on Friday decide on the date of pronouncement of the quantum of sentence.

The special SIT court is hearing arguments made by the defence on mitigating circumstances and other factors before determining the sentence for the convicts.

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On Monday, prosecution had sought death penalty for all the 24 people convicted for the gruesome killings.

Special Judge P B Desai on Thursday heard the lawyer for accused Abhay Bhardwaj, who presented lengthy arguments against demands for capital punishment or life sentence till death, made by the prosecution lawyer.

The judge said the date for pronouncement of quantum of sentence will be decided on Friday after hearing the SIT lawyer, especially on the aspects of compensation to families of the victims, which has been sought by the victims’ lawyer.

The court had on June 2 convicted 24 people and acquitted 36 others, while dropping conspiracy charges. Out of the total 66 accused, six had died during the trial. Of the 24 convicted, 11 have been charged with murder, while 13 others including VHP leader Atul Vaidya, have been convicted for lesser offences.

While making his submission, Bhardwaj said the court should consider mitigating circumstances for convicts including their prior criminal record, age, socio-economic background, possibility of rehabilitation, and whether they can reform, before pronouncing their sentence.