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Sentences likely in January ?07

india Updated: Dec 05, 2006 04:11 IST

The Special TADA court has completed pronouncing the judgment against all the 123 accused involved in the serial-blasts case. On Monday, it convicted six aides of Tiger Memon who were involved in lobbing hand grenades on residents of a fishermen colony in Mahim. Three people died in the attack and 55 were injured.

Of the total accused, the court held 100 guilty; 23 were acquitted for lack of evidence or given the benefit of the doubt.

Judge Pramod Kode convicted Bashir Ahmed Usman Ghani Khairullah, Zakir Hussain Noor Mohammad Shaikh, Abdul Khan, Feroze Amani Malik, Moin Querishi and Salim Rahim Shaikh. They were found guilty of conspiracy and of aiding and abetting conspirators in committing terrorist acts.

The court held them guilty based on their confessional statements and that of other co-accused and also on other corroborative evidence.

What next?

The stage is now set for another round of hearing in the 1993 blasts case. Lawyers are supposed to present their final arguments on the quantum of sentence of each of those convicted. The entire process, starting December 11, is likely to take about two months.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said: "This is the first time in India's judicial history that 100 accused have been held guilty in one trial. Our strategy would be to put forth our arguments on the sentence, which we are likely to conclude in a week once we begin. The court is likely to deliver the sentence against the convicts in January," he said.

Defence lawyer Farhana Shah said: "One of the senior lawyers, Harshad Ponda, is likely to argue on December 11 on legal points for all those convicted for aiding and abetting conspirators - under Section 3 (3) of TADA. This attracts a maximum punishment of life sentence."

"He will also argue for Section 3 (2) for all the bomb planters which attracts a punishment from life sentence to capital punishment. Then the lawyers would argue for individual convicts, which could take time," she said.

Another lawyer Subhash Kanse said: "Once the arguments are over, the court will surely take time as both sides are bound to support their arguments, which the court would require time to study before it hands out the judgment."

The final sentence would be delivered only by mid-January, Kanse added.

Email Mustafa Plumber: mustafa .plumber@hindustantimes.com

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