The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Portugal pact shrinks don cases
- Breather for movie town

Mumbai/New Delhi, Nov. 12: Abu Salem will be tried for the Bombay blasts but not for Gulshan Kumar’s murder or the attempt on Rakesh Roshan.

The rules of extradition not only look set to save the don from the hangman’s noose or a jail term exceeding 25 years but they may also give him virtual immunity from 46 of the 54 criminal cases against him.

Salem can be tried only in the eight cases for which his extradition was sought from Portugal, CBI joint director Vivek Dubey and his colleague .P. Chhatwal said today citing “Section 21 of the Indian Extradition Act of 1962”.

Only one of these cases involves Bollywood: the murder of Manisha Koirala’s secretary Ajit Dewani. Salem can’t be touched in any of the rest, such as the attacks on film-makers Roshan and Rajiv Rai and producer Javed Siddique, or the murders of Gulshan and producers Mukesh Duggal and Dinesh Anand.

This should be a relief to Mumbai’s filmdom with its well-known aversion to testifying against the underworld.

The offences Salem can be prosecuted for include two false passport cases, a couple of extortion charges, a murder plot and the killing of a Delhi builder.

If any of the remaining 46 charges are to be pressed, the state governments concerned ' for instance, Maharashtra in the Bollywood attacks ' must approach Lisbon through the Union home ministry. This is just a theoretical possibility.

The CBI, which will handle the Bombay blasts and fake passport cases, is anyway not willing to hand Salem over to Mumbai or Delhi police ' at least till he is grilled “to the satisfaction” of the agency as well as the Intelligence Bureau and RAW. The reason: it thinks the police are riddled with underworld moles.

“We believe many cops have links with D-company,” an official said. The CBI fears that policemen on the payroll of Dawood Ibrahim or Chhota Rajan may help them bump Salem off to stop him talking or to settle old scores.

The agency is thus opposed to Salem being put in Mumbai’s Arthur Jail, where many Dawood and Rajan men are lodged. It may bring Salem to Delhi sometime soon.

CBI officials have also clarified that the undertaking given to Portugal to spare Salem’s life is in keeping with the amended 1962 act, and is binding on the government as well as any Indian court.

Yesterday, special Tada court judge P.D. Kode had objected to the pact with Lisbon not to give Salem the death sentence ' which is banned in Portugal ' or a jail term exceeding 25 years, the upper limit in the European country. Kode had said accused could not be presented before a court with pre-conditions.

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