The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Snubbed Salem will have to go solo

Mumbai, June 13: A special Tada court today rejected gangster Abu Salem’s plea to be tried along with the 123 other accused in the main Bombay blasts case.

Giving the reason for this rejection, judge Pramod Kode said trying Salem along with the others would delay the verdict of the main case by many months. Hence, the extradited gangster would be tried separately.

By rejecting the plea, the Tada court has paved the way for the much-awaited verdict in the over 13-year-old case. The serial explosions on March 12, 1993, had killed 257 people and injured 713.

The court said the separated trial against Salem would be referred to in case documents as BBC-1B/1993, while the main trial would be referred to as BBC-1/93.

On July 3, judge Kode will announce the date of the verdict of the main case in which actor Sanjay Dutt is also an accused.

With today’s order, the court has also insulated the main blasts case from possible delays in future due to fresh arrests of the 28 absconding accused like gangster Dawood Ibrahim.

Salem’s lawyers had contended that there would be prejudice against the gangster if he was not tried jointly with the others.

But the CBI had opposed the plea, saying the trial of the other accused had been over before Salem’s extradition and a joint trial now would delay the verdict.

Today, judge Kode rejected two other applications by Salem.

One of them alleged that the CBI had violated extradition clauses in the blasts case by conducting fresh investigations. The other prayed that the gangster be allowed to return to Portugal.

Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said today’s order was a “big blow” to Salem. “Today’s order is crucial as it will ensure that there is no further hurdle for delivering the final judgment in the serial blasts case which has been awaited for a long time.”

Outside the court, Nikam alleged that Salem’s plea for a joint trial was part of a conspiracy to prolong the hearings of the blasts case and delay its verdict.

Asked if the separation of Salem’s trial would impact Dutt’s defence, Nikam said: “We have enough evidence against Sanjay Dutt, and today’s order would not impact the main trial.”

The CBI had charged Salem with transporting arms and ammunition to Dutt.

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