Marine diesel smuggler Mohammad Ali Abu Bakr Sheikh was questioned by the crime branch on Thursday in connection with the murder of journalist J Dey, who was gunned down by motorcycle-borne assailants at Powai on Saturday.
The police have also been questioning police informers even as they suspect that Mateen alias Iqbal Hakla and Anwar Sheikh, who they picked up on Wednesday, have been misleading them.
Sources said Mateen and Sheikh, who are still being questioned, are unaware of details related to the crime.
Joint commissioner of police, crime, Himanshu Roy said a special team questioned Ali at the Nair Hospital, where he has been admitted for treatment of various ailments.
Ali was arrested on September 21 last year in connection with the murder of rival oil smuggler Chand Madar.
The Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) had been invoked against Ali and seven of his associates in the case.
On Tuesday, the crime branch made an application in the designated MCOCA court, seeking permission to question Ali over Dey’s murder. The court granted permission on Wednesday.
“Dey had written a number of articles about the oil mafia in general, and Ali in particular. He has already been arrested for murdering one of his rivals, who allegedly came in the way of his business. Therefore we wanted to question him,” Roy said.
Sources said of the two arrested on Wednesday, Mateen, a resident of Jogeshwari, had been picked up by the police on the basis of an informant’s tip-off.
He allegedly admitted to the crime and disclosed the name of Anwar from Mumbra who was subsequently picked up.
However, while questioning, the police realised that the duo was unaware of the sequence of the crime or the weapons and vehicles used.
“We are now trying to find out why the informant and the duo misled us,” a police official said, on condition of anonymity, because he is not authorised to talk to media.
Roy also claimed the police have spoken to five new witnesses from the CCTV footage captured at the time of the murder.
He said these witnesses have given valuable clues about the appearance of the killers and the way in which the murder took place.
Till Thursday, the police had questioned about 50 people.
Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik said: “By and large, the motive (behind the murder) appears to be Dey’s professional work.
There is a lot of information, which we are filtering before zeroing in on any conclusion,” he said.