Pleading innocence,Abdul Latif,convicted by a Patiala court for his alleged role in the hijack of the Indian Airlines IC-814 flight in December 1999 ,on Monday claimed that the CBI had framed him in the case. He further alleged that his confession,mentioned in the CBI chargesheet,had been obtained under duress.
His counsel,R S Bains,also claimed that Latif was already in prison when the hijack occurred and hence had been falsely implicated by the CBI. The arguments were made during the hearing of a petition filed by Latif challenging the life imprisonment awarded to him by a lower Court in Patiala in 2008. Two other accused,Yusuf Nepali and Dalip Bhujail,who were also awarded life sentence for allegedly helping out the hijackers,has already spent 13 years in prison.
The CBI,on the other hand,had filed a cross appeal demanding the death sentence for Latif by equating his case with that of the terrorist attack on Parliament in 2001,for which main accused Afzal Guru was hanged. The investigating agency linked Latif with the Pakistan-based militant outfit Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. It contended that Latif was one of the reasons that the country had to give in to terrorists resulting in the release of Maulana Masood Azhar,who later masterminded the Parliament attack. The hearing will resume on Tuesday.