October 12, 2013 12:43:06 am
Owing to security concerns after alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Afzal Mutalib Usmani (35) gave the slip to police escorts at the Sessions Court in Kala Ghoda on September 20,the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA) court has now been shifted to the high-security Arthur Road prison.
The court,presided by special MCOCA judge A L Pansare,is handling nearly 25 trials,including the 2008 case of terror emails allegedly sent out by the IM in which Usmani is an accused. Barring a few,all important MCOCA cases will be shifted to the new court inside Arthur Road prison, a court officer confirmed.
The decision was taken after the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) submitted a report to the state government after a thorough security review carried out at the sessions court. It was observed that ferrying IM operatives to the court every day was dangerous.
Earlier,a temporary court was held inside the Arthur Road prison in 2008 to conduct the trial against 26/11 Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab.
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Also,a special designated TADA judge had conducted the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case trial from the same premises. In the case of Kasab,security was further beefed up with the deployment of Indo-Tibetan Border Police at the prison.
On September 20,Usmani,who was brought to court along with eight other co-accused for the trial proceedings,gave the slip to police escorts that had brought him from Taloja Jail in Navi Mumbai.
In all,23 accused are facing trial in the case. Four of them are out on bail,while the others are lodged at Arthur Road and Taloja jails. The court was caught unawares when one of the constables from the escort team informed it about Usmanis escape. Two policemen were suspended and an internal inquiry initiated against them.
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