A special court in Pune sent Mohammed Ahmed Zarar Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal, a prime accused in the German Bakery blast case, to 14-day magisterial custody for conducting a test identification parade of the 32-year-old.
Bhatkal was produced before Special Judge S D Darane as his 14-day ATS custody got over on Friday. Bhatkal was produced in the Shivajinagar court amid tight security.
Earlier this month, the Maharashtra ATS had taken Bhatkal into its custody after getting his transit remand from a special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court in Mumbai for prosecuting him in the German Bakery blast, which killed 17 persons in February 2010. He was produced before the special court on March 12 and was remanded in ATS custody till March 28. He was arrested for his alleged role in the July 13, 2011, triple blasts in Mumbai.
On Friday, Assistant Commissioner of Police Shantaram Tayade of ATS requested the court for 14-day magisterial custody of the terror suspect, arguing that the police wanted to conduct his test identification parade.
“It was revealed during the interrogation of the accused that the bomb blast was a result of a well-planned conspiracy, which was executed by seven named suspects by coordinating with each other. We want to conduct a test identification parade of the accused (Bhatkal) in front of the witnesses in the case,” Tayade told the court.
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He said the ATS reserved the right to seek additional police custody as police could get up to 30 days of remand in MCOCA cases. Special public prosecutor Vikas Shah prayed that the authorities conducting the identification parade should be allowed to keep the identities of the witnesses under wraps. The court granted the permission.
The court also agreed to the police’s request that Bhatkal should be allowed to be lodged at Thane Central Jail instead of Pune’s Yerawada Jail.
Defence lawyer Zaheerkhan Pathan, who appeared for Bhatkal, requested the court to pass directives to the investigating authorities to allow the lawyer to remain present during the test identification parade and allow him to meet Bhatkal in jail. He complained to the court that the jail authorities usually tried to stop lawyers from meeting terror accused citing “sensitive nature of the cases”.
The court asked the defence lawyer to make the application before the authorities concerned first (the authorities conducting the identification parade and the jailer of Thane jail). “If they decline the permission, you can approach us,” said the judge.
When produced before the judge, Bhatkal’s head was covered with a hijab. Asked by the judge if he had any complaint against the police, he smiled and replied in the negative.