WHILE THE TADA court on Friday held that Abu Salem was “one of the main conspirators” of the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, a retired CBI officer who was instrumental in the gangster’s extradition said that Salem is likely to escape the noose due to sovereign assurance given to Portugal by India in 2005 at the time of his extradition from Lisbon. Then a Superintendent of Police with CBI, the now-retired N S Kharayat told The Indian Express that a closure into the case will come only after the real masterminds such as Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon are put on trial.
“The CBI issued a red-corner notice against Salem (and) he was arrested in 2002 in Lisbon,” Kharayat said. “We sent an extradition request along with a list of nine cases. After a prolonged legal battle, Lisbon granted Salem’s custody on condition that he will not be given death penalty.”
He said the government, “represented by then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and junior external affairs minister Omar Abdulla, gave undertaking to the Portugal government that he will not be given death penalty”.
About Yakub Memon, who was hanged in 2015 for his role in the blasts, a decision that has been criticised in some quarters, the former CBI officer said, “Yakub was involved in the conspiracy. He deserved it (capital punishment). He was instrumental in supplying of arms and ammunition.” Asked how Memon was caught and brought to India, Kharayat said, “I would not like to elaborate but he came to India after we put pressure. He came to India via Kathmandu.”
The 1993 serial blasts case was initially investigated by Mumbai Police and was later handed over to the CBI.