All nine were sentenced to life in prison by Judge Abhay Tipsay after being found guilty of setting fire to the Muslim-owned Best Bakery in Gujarat's Baroda town.

The Best Bakery incident came amid a wave of bloody reprisals for the deaths of 59 Hindus in a train coach allegedly torched by a Muslim mob in February 2002.

Eight more defendants were acquitted.

The case was seen as a crucial test of the Indian government's ability to bring to justice those responsible
for the riots. More than 1000 people, mostly Muslims, died.

A lower court in Gujarat in 2003 acquitted 21 men, including the 17 who stood trial in Bombay.

India's Supreme Court ordered the 17 be retried outside Gujarat after human rights groups brought evidence that 34 witnesses retracted their statements in the original trial.

The witnesses said they had been threatened by Hindu nationalist politicians.