A Mumbai gang boss and eight others were sentenced to life imprisonment on Wednesday in relation to the 2011 broad daylight killing of an investigative crime reporter in India's financial hub, Mumbai, a prosecuting lawyer said.
A Mumbai court found Rajendra Nikhalje, alias Chhota Rajan, guilty of ordering journalist Jyotirmoy Dey's murder, public prosecutor Pradip Gharat said.
Rajan and eight other accused, including four gunmen involved in the case, were given life sentences under various sections relating to murder and conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code, Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act and the Arms Act.
They were also fined 2.6mn rupees (about $39,000) each. They can appeal against their sentences in a higher court.
Two other accused, including journalist Jigna Vora, whom investigators accused of being in regular touch with Rajan and of being a part of the conspiracy to kill Dey, were acquitted. A 12th accused died in 2015.
Dey, the top crime reporter at Mid Day, a popular daily tabloid, was shot dead at point blank range by four unidentified gunmen riding two motorbikes in a Mumbai suburb on June 11, 2011. J Dey, as he was popularly known, died in hospital.
Ten people, including the gunmen, were arrested in November 2011. Rajan, who was a fugitive at the time of the crime, was arrested in Bali, Indonesia in 2015 and deported to India.
Rajan, who is currently lodged in Delhi's Tihar Jail, attended court via videoconferencing. Asked if he had anything to say after the sentence was pronounced, he said, "Theek hai" ('That's all right' in Hindi), NDTV news channel reported.
Rajan headed one of Mumbai's crime syndicates and fled to Dubai in 1998 and had been hopping continents until his arrest in Bali.
According to the Central Bureau of Investigation charge sheet, Rajan had ordered Dey's killing because Rajan was upset by some articles he had written, India Today news channel reported.
Rajan is facing trial in several cases of murder, extortion and drug trafficking. This is his first conviction.
Paulson Joseph, who was charged with providing mobile phone SIM cards to other accused, was also acquitted.
The court said there was not enough evidence to show they were involved in the crime. A total of 155 witnesses were deposed during the prolonged trial, Gharat said.
Dey had been reporting on the Mumbai underworld for two decades and had extensive contacts to the mafia and police.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 47 journalists have been killed in India since 1992. Most had been covering business and corruption, its website said.
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