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Pandher admits he knew of murders

He gives in after being brought face to face with Surendra Koli, report Tushar Srivastava and Abhishek Bhalla.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2007 03:10 IST

For the first time since his arrest in the Nithari case, businessman Moninder Singh Pandher on Tuesday indicated he was aware of the sexual assaults and killings at his home, investigators said.

Pandher cracked after he was brought face to face with his servant and co-accused Surendra Koli.

Pandher and Koli are being interrogated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly sexually assaulting and murdering dozens of people, mainly children, in Noida's Nithari village.

Ever since his arrest over two weeks ago, Pandher had maintained he had no knowledge about his servant's alleged involvement in the killings.

"This is a big breakthrough for us. Until now, Pandher had never accepted having any knowledge about Koli's activities," a senior CBI official said on condition of anonymity. "To take the investigation forward, it was decided to bring them face to face."

Meanwhile, more bags containing human flesh and body parts were recovered from Nithari on Tuesday. The CBI's forensic team visited Pandher's house again, continuing to dig for the second day. Investigators suspect that some bodies might have been buried in the house itself.

Working on the statements given separately by Pandher and Koli, investigators also began to pick out contradictions in the two versions. The Noida Police have said that Koli has confessed to his involvement in the sexual assault and deaths, but Pandher has denied any knowledge.

Several employees at Pandher's industrial equipment factory in Noida were also questioned on Tuesday about his personal and professional life, and his frequent trips abroad.

"Most of the foreign tours were related to professional work and mostly a group of 20-25 people travelled," Umesh Saini, a sales manager in the company who was questioned, told the Hindustan Times.