A magisterial court on Friday held Yogesh Raut, the prime accused in the 2009 case of gangrape and murder of techie Nayana Pujari, guilty of escaping from the police custody in September 2011.
Raut had escaped from the police custody while being taken to the Sassoon General Hospital. He was at large for 18 months before finally being caught in May 2013. He, along with co-accused who helped him flee, will be sentenced on Saturday.
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Judicial Magistrate (First Class) Shrikant Nimase held Raut guilty under sections 224 (dodging lawful detention), 419 (impersonation), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using forged documents) of the Indian Penal Code. While convicting Raut, the court acquitted his brother Manoj Raut (28), friend Satish Padekar (30) and undertrial prisoner Nitin Modha, who were accused helping Raut flee.
Another accused, Police Naik Sumersingh Sursingh Patil, is being tried separately.
Raut is the main accused in the abduction, rape and murder of software engineer Nayana Pujari.
On September 17, 2011, Raut was brought to the hospital from the Yerawada Central Jail. He fled around 2 pm, when Police Naik Patil removed his handcuffs as Raut said he had to visit the toilet. When he escaped, Raut was on trial for the Pujari murder case as well as a case involving the kidnapping and murder of vegetable vendor Vishaka Mandal.
Raut then fled to Delhi and stayed their using alias Ravikumar Bhalla. He obtained a photo ID and a driving licence in this name and worked a driver.
The prosecution also claimed that after his escape, Raut had visited Pune twice – on December 12, 2012, and February 6, 2013 – and stayed at a hotel in Wakad using fake names. He was arrested by police while visiting Shirdi on May 31, 2013.
Assistant Public Prosecutor Suchitra Narote examined 11 witnesses during the trial that lasted for about a year. “We managed to finish the trial in a quick time. We largely relied on documentary evidence, thus strengthening the case. There was not a single adjournment in the case from the prosecution side,” said Narote.
Defence lawyer B A Aloor had argued that police had exhorted Raut to flee so as to make their case against him in the Nayana Pujari case stronger. Judge rejected this argument.