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Hearing on plea for Salem's separate trial deferred till Apr 4

Written by: Staff
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Mumbai, Mar 31 (UNI) The TADA court today deferred to April 4, the hearing of a CBI plea seeking court's permission to separate the trial of extradited gangster Abu Salem and his associate Riaz Siddiqui in the 1993 serial bomb blasts case, as defence has sought time to file a reply.

Arguing before designated TADA Judge P D Kode, CBI counsel S Natarajan today made a written submission, confending that since the trial of 123 accused, including film actor Sanjay Dutt, had already been completed on November 30, 2002 and the court is all set to deliver its verdict, the trial of Salem and his associate be separated so the order will not be delayed and will not cause any hardship to the accused already tried.

In the written submission, Mr Natarajan said that on February 19, 2003, another extradited blast accused - Ejaz Pathan was deported from Dubai, and his trial was joined with that of the others accused. Even as the witnesses and other proceedings of his choice were recalled and examined, he added.

After that, another blast accused - Mohammed Ahmed Dossa alias Mustafa Majnu-- was also deported from Dubai and his trial was separated by the court, hence, the trial of Salem also be separated, the advocate said.

Citing the Supreme Court ruling in the Ram Lal Nagran case, he said that it was in the discretion of the court to take a decision, whether the trial of Salem and Siddiqui may be separated or joined with the already completed trial.

He also said, 37 accused, including prime accused Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and Tiger Memon, who had allegedly master-minded the blasts, are absconding and efforts are being made to apprehend them, to bring them to justice.

Meanwhile, the proceedings of extradition of one of the blasts accused is pending with the Dubai government.

''The arrest of absconding accused in future, or at a later date cannot be ruled out, and in such an event, joining of each and every arrested absconder with the completed trial will make it a never ending process. It cannot be ruled out that absconding accused might adopt a strategy to surface at regular interval, with the sole objective to prolong the trial for an indefinite period,'' Mr Natarajan further argued.

According to prosecution, Salem and Siddiqui had actively participated in the conspiracy of the blasts and distributed arms to the co-accused, including Sanjay Dutt at his residence in Bandra Western suburb of Mumbai.

Both are now lodged in the Arthur road jail in the metropolis.

UNI XR-GK KD VD PC1857

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