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Defence opposed CBI plea to seperate Salem trial

Written by: Staff

Mumbai, Apr 4: Defence counsel of extradited gangster Abu Salem 1993 serial blast case today strongly opposed the CBI plea to seperate trial of Salem and his associate Riyas Siddique from the trial of 123 blast accussed which is already concluded.

Arguing before designated Tada judge P D Kode, a battery of defence lawyers comprising advocates Nitin Pradhan, Shopidh Khot and Ashok Sarogi opposed the CBI plea and sought time to argue the case as the paper related to extradited proceedings of the gangster and others were not furnished to the defence.

The document asked, however, was handed over to the defence today after which they sought time to study the matter till April 12. The court then deferred the hearing till then.

On March 31, senior CBI counsel S Natarajan had made a written submission and argued 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 in the lengthiest trial of the Indian judiciary, the trial of Salem and his associate be separated so that the order of the trial will not be delayed and will not cause any hardship to the accused who have already faced the trial.

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

Interestingly, 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.

He also cited a Supreme Court ruling in the Ram Lal Nagran case and argued that it is 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,'' Advocate Natarajan further argued.

According to the 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 were today produced before the Tada court in the Arthur road jail premises.


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