An Indian court on Tuesday handed down life terms to three men found guilty of conspiracy in the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight, a report said.
A court in the northern town of Patiala found the three men, identified as Abdul Latif, Bhupal Man Damai and Dalip Kumar Bhujel, guilty of criminal conspiracy, murder and abduction, the Press Trust of India reported.
"All three have been sentenced to life terms," defence counsel Rajinder Singh Sodhi said. Kathmandu-New Delhi flight IC-814, which was carrying 183 passengers and crew, was hijacked and flown to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan on December 24, 1999 by five armed men who India says were Pakistani nationals.
One passenger was stabbed to death while the remaining hostages were freed a week later when New Delhi swapped them for three jailed pro-Kashmir Islamic rebels.
The hijackers and the three freed rebels were in turn allowed by the Taliban to go free, and they have never been caught.
Indian police arrested Latif, Damai and Bhujel in early 2000 in the western commercial hub of Mumbai.
But defence lawyer Sodhi said his client, Latif, had been made a "scapegoat." The three convicts, all Indian nationals, can appeal against the verdict in a higher court.
India’s Central Bureau of Investigation, which investigated the hijack, said it would not rest until all those responsible are brought to justice.
"It’s a job half done," bureau director Vijay Shanker told reporters in New Delhi. "I will wait and will be glad when the remaining eight people including the hijackers are sentenced by the court," he said.
India accuses Pakistan of harbouring the militants released in the hijack swap but Islamabad has denied the charges