India's court upholds acquittal of terrorists accused in 2001 parliament attack

The Supreme Court of India upheld the acquittal of two of the four people convicted of carring out an attack on the Indian parliament that almost triggered a war between India and Pakistan in 2001.

The top court reduced the sentence of a third person.

Four people were arrested on charges that they planned and gave logistical help for the Dec. 13, 2001 attack that killed 14 people, including all five attackers.

A special court dealing with terror-related cases sentenced all four to death in 2002, but the the Delhi High Court threw out two of those convictions last year, citing lack of evidence. Thursday's ruling came after the police challenged the High Court ruling.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the two acquittals and overruled the High Court's death sentence for a third, the husband of one of those whose conviction was overturned last year. His sentence was reduced to 10 years in prison.

"That is what we were expecting the Supreme Court to do," N.D. Pancholi, the lawyer for Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani, the other acquitted person.

Police said Geelani, a professor at Delhi University, knew the attackers and was in touch with the ringleader, Mohammed Afzal, whose death sentence remains in effect. Afzal, a former militant, had confessed in interviews to television channels that he was involved in the attack.

The attack on the Indian parliament almost pushed India and Pakistan to war, after New Delhi blamed Pakistan-based militant groups and its spy agency for the assault. Islamabad denied involvement, the AP reports.

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