Defence drops six of seven witnesses

In a petition filed by the accused in the 7/11 serial train blasts — seeking the examination of seven prosecution witnesses as defence witnesses

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Mumbai | Published: July 17, 2013 1:00 am

In a petition filed by the accused in the 7/11 serial train blasts — seeking the examination of seven prosecution witnesses as defence witnesses — their counsel on Tuesday told the Bombay High Court that they are willing to drop six of them.

Defence counsel Yug Chaudhry said they are only seeking the examination of Assistant Commissioner of Police K Shengal,who filed a chargesheet stating that the RDX left over from the serial blasts of July 11,2006,was used in the Malegaon blasts of 2006.

The 13 accused have challenged the order of the special MCOCA court passed on March 1,rejecting their plea to examine seven persons as defence witnesses,earlier cited as prosecution witnesses.

Justice Sadhana Jadhav asked the Maharashtra ATS to tell the court how the examination of Shengal as a defence witness would adversely affect the prosecution’s case in the trial court. “Once Shengal is examined,all the material will be there before the court. He is helping you prove your (ATS) case,” Justice Jadhav said.

Chaudhry told the court that the 13 accused are facing serious charges under the MCOCA and a conviction could attract a death sentence. Asking the prosecution to consider allowing the defence to examine Shengal as witness,the court also said that every accused has to be given a fair trial irrespective of the punishment his offence can attract.

Additional public prosecutor Purnima Kantharia said in a lighter vein that there has got to be a catch since the defence had easily given up on the examination of six other witnesses. The accused also sought to examine five witnesses who had allegedly said they saw “suspicious” men on the train before the blasts. The sixth witness was the collector of Mumbai.

In their appeal,the accused have contended that Shengal had arrested two of the accused — Shaikh Mohammed Ali Alam Shaikh and Asif Khan Bashir Khan alias Junaid — in connection with the Malegaon blasts of 2006 and had also supervised the disclosure of statements following which RDX was recovered.

However,the accused said following investigations of the NIA,the accused in the Malegaon case,except Shaikh and Junaid facing trial in the 7/11 blasts,were released on bail in concurrence with the NIA following a confession of Swami Aseemanand.

The investigating agency,however,opposed the application and said that recalling witness to be examined by defence would only prolong and protract the trial.

The case will be heard further on July 24.

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