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A fast track court in this Orissa capital held two people guilty Monday in the sensational murder of judo coach Biranchi Das, who mentored child prodigy marathoner Budhia, a government lawyer said.Judge Vivekananda Das of the first track court III held prime accused Raja Acharya and his associate Akhya Behera guilty of committing the murder after examining several prosecution witnesses, including five eyewitnesses, Additional Public Prosecutor S.K. Mund told reporters.

The court will pronounce the quantum of punishment Dec 17, he said.

Das was shot dead outside his judo hall here April 13, 2008, by two unidentified gunmen when he was celebrating Oriya New Year’s Day with his students and family.

While Behera surrendered in Bhopal April 22, Acharya, who faces several cases of extortion, murder and kidnapping, surrendered to police in Goa in May. Both were charge sheeted by police in August 2008.

“I am happy that the court found them guilty. However, I am waiting to see what sentence the court is going to give them,” Das’s widow Gitanjali said.

Hundreds of people who were waiting outside the court expressed their happiness over the judgment.

“The justice was delayed but we are happy that the court announced them guilty. It was a victory of truth,” a city resident said outside the court.

After hearing the judgment, hundreds of students and fans gathered near the judo hall and marked the victory in the case by lighting incense sticks. Many of them also broke into tears remembering their days with the coach.

Biranchi Das, a judo teacher, became famous after he adopted and trained six-year-old Budhia. The boy’s impoverished mother Sukanti Singh had sold him for a sum of Rs.800, and Das rescued Budhia from the man who had bought him.

Under his tutelage, Budhia created a record in May 2006 by running 65 km from Puri to Bhubaneswar in seven hours. The Limca Book of Records acknowledged his feat.

Swadesh Das, a defence lawyer, said Acharya and Behera will appeal against the judgment to the higher court against their conviction in Das’s killing.

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