The special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Friday acquitted seven people accused in the murder of Ajit Dewani, former secretary to actress Manisha Koirala.
Two men had shot Dewani outside his Oshiwara office on June 30, 2001.
The police arrested Upendra Singh, Nizamuddin Khan, Ayub Patel, Akhilesh Singh, Shah Alam, Saheblal Giri, Deepak Singh and Mushir Alam for in the case.
The police said the killings were carried out at the behest of gangster Abu Salem as Dewani failed to pay the extortion money.
Upendra and Deepak had barged into the Lokhandwala office and shot at him at point blank range, the police said. The duo then fled in a car allegedly provided to them by Nizamuddin.
Another accused, Alam, allegedly provided the flat in which Deepak and Upendra stayed while Ayub allegedly showed them the offices of various Bollywood personalities.
The prosecution examined 40 witnesses. Apart from Upendra and Shah Alam, all other accused were out on bail after spending about five years behind the bars.
After the extradition of gangster Abu Salem from Portugal in November 2005, he was also made an accused in the case for allegedly masterminding the killing. However, on October 10 last year, he was discharged from the case.
Arguing for the accused, defence lawyers contended that there were no eyewitnesses in the case. “There were two girls whom the police claimed to be the eyewitnesses but one failed to identify the accused while the other was never traced by the police,” said defence lawyer Shahid Azmi, appearing for Nizamuddin and Ayub.