The Bombay High Court will on Thursday pronounce its judgment on the appeal against death penalty by Mirza Himayat Baig, convicted for ‘masterminding’ the German Bakery blasts. The hearing of the death confirmation proceedings filed by the state and appeal filed by the convict had gone on for over four months.
While the state was represented by Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakre, Baig’s counsel was Delhi-based lawyer Mehmood Pracha.
After hearing the matter at length, a bench comprising justices N H Patil and S B Shukre had reserved its order in December, 2015.
Interestingly, and more importantly, two key witnesses had moved their applications in the matter, saying they were coerced into giving statements against Baig during his trial.
In addition, AAP leader Ashish Khetan had moved an application, claiming that he had carried out a sting operation on these witnesses which revealed that they were “coerced” and “tutored” by the Maharashtra ATS to give the testimony.
One of the key arguments of the defence in the case was that there was no CCTV camera inside the bakery. Baig was awarded death penalty by a sessions court for “masterminding” the explosion on February 13, 2010 in Pune that left 17 people dead and several injured.
The court was on October 6, 2015 shown a CCTV footage that recorded the explosion that reduced the bakery to rubble.
The prosecution had then argued on the basis of the footage, which showed 15-20 customers. Among them, was seen a middle-aged lanky man wearing a field cap with a rucksack on the back and a black shoulder bag.
He was seen placing an order at the counter and heading to the delivery counter to collect it.
At 5:29:30 on the footage, the same man is seen carrying a bag on his shoulder and walking out of the bakery. This was recorded by a CCTV camera placed right outside the bakery. This man, the prosecution had claimed, was Yasin Bhatkal, founder of the outlawed Indian Mujahideen.
Pracha had denied the presence of any CCTV camera inside the bakery while showing once again the footage of the fateful night besides the aftermath.
On the witnesses, Thakare had argued the two witnesses were working with accused Baig and close to him.
In that scenario, he had asked why it did not stir up their conscience when the news of Baig’s conviction and subsequent sentencing had spread everywhere.
The prosecution had also claimed and stressed on the recovery of RDX from the blast cite matching with traces found in Baig’s house.
Baig was convicted and sentenced under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, Explosive Substance Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.