The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Confession’ of Salem on test
- Sealed envelope with Tada court

Mumbai/New Delhi, Nov. 21: The CBI today submitted a sealed envelope, apparently containing Abu Salem’s confession, to the court hearing the Bombay blasts case.

“We have sent a sealed envelope carrying statements by Salem to the court,” said the don’s lawyer Ashok Sarogi. The packet reached the Tada (the anti-terror law) court through the chief metropolitan magistrate’s court.

Sarogi said the packet was signed by him as well as a CBI counsel, but said he did not know its contents. The lawyer said he assumed that the envelope would contain Salem’s statements about the 1993 serial blasts.

The envelope will be given to Tada court judge P.D. Kode for acceptance tomorrow at 11 am.

Sarogi said: “All formalities have been followed. Legally, it is a confession, but we believe it has been forced out of him by the CBI.”

According to Section 15 of Tada, whenever an accused makes a confession before a CBI or a police officer of a particular rank, he has to appear again before the chief metropolitan magistrate to confirm the statement.

A senior officer of Mumbai police’s crime branch said: “If it is indeed a confessional statement, it can be of use only if Salem admits so before the judge.

“In most cases, including Tada, the accused can just retract the statement before the judge, even though it may have been recorded in the presence of a senior officer. It can’t be said whether it is a confession unless Salem agrees it is one.”

In the past, several Bombay blast accused, like actor Sanjay Dutt, have retracted their confessions before the court. In his confession to Mumbai police, Sanjay had named Salem as the person who had supplied arms to him, but went back on it subsequently.

Despite the scepticism, Tada regulations give a lot of importance to confessions made before an officer of the rank of SP or above.

On Sunday, Meeran Boriwanker, the joint commissioner of police, Mumbai, had paid a visit to the CBI’s special task force headquarters where Salem is being interrogated. She is also believed to have had a meeting with senior CBI officials interrogating Salem.

The sealed envelope is expected to be opened by the judge either tomorrow or day after when Salem is produced in court to decide whether the CBI will continue to hold him or he will be moved to judicial custody.

If Salem admits to his “confession” before the Tada judge, it will mean a big victory for the CBI.

CBI officials, however, admitted that they were waiting with bated breath to see what Salem says about his confession in court. Sources said the CBI team had tried to make Salem’s confession foolproof so that he did not backtrack when questioned by the Tada court.

The sources added that a metropolitan magistrate was present during the confession.

Under Tada, if the confessional statement of an accused is admitted, it becomes evidence in the court of law.

“If Salem’s statement is admitted, the Bombay blasts case will pick up speed. The court will fix time for CBI to frame charges and submit a fresh chargesheet. The CBI in all likelihood will ask for further custody of Salem to get more details. Trials will begin once the CBI files the chargesheet,” said a source.

If Salem stands by his confession, the question that will be asked is what deal the CBI has struck with the don.

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