Rayagada (Odisha), Apr 13 (PTI) A court here today awarded capital punishment to nine persons for burying alive three members of a family after assaulting them on the suspicion of practising sorcery in 2016.

Additional district judge Subendhu Kumar Pati held the nine guilty of killing Asina Sabar (48), his wife Ambei (40) and their elder daughter Asmani (26).

“The court examined as many as 11 witnesses and took circumstantial evidences into account before pronouncing the judgement,” said additional public prosecutor Krushna Chandra Senapati.

Based on the complaint of the younger daughter of the deceased couple identified as Malati (22), the only eyewitness to the crime, police had registered a case under section various sections of the IPC and the Odisha Prevention of Witch Hunting Act.

On September 9, 2016, a group of people of Kitum village barged into the house of Sabar and forcibly took the three to a cowshed at the village end and beat them up, said Senapati.

As the three felt unconscious, the villagers dragged them to the village graveyard and buried them alive in a grave already dug, he said, adding that they burnt the bodies after exhuming them the next day to destroy evidence.

Uma Charan Patnaik, counsel of the convicts, said they will move the high court challenging this verdict.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.