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Not guilty...

OVER SIX years after ramp model Jessica Lall was shot dead at socialite Bina Ramani?s packed Tamarind Court restaurant, a local court on Tuesday acquitted all the nine suspects ? including Manu Sharma, son of former Union minister Vinod Sharma ? in the case. The court did not find any concrete grounds to convict them.Lall was shot dead in front of over 600 people on the intervening night of April 29-30, 1999.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2006 01:12 IST

All Jessica Lall murder accused acquitted

OVER SIX years after ramp model Jessica Lall was shot dead at socialite Bina Ramani’s packed Tamarind Court restaurant, a local court on Tuesday acquitted all the nine suspects — including Manu Sharma, son of former Union minister Vinod Sharma — in the case. The court did not find any concrete grounds to convict them.

Lall was shot dead in front of over 600 people on the intervening night of April 29-30, 1999.

The court acquitted the suspects on the ground that there was not enough evidence against them, raising serious question marks on the investigations conducted by the Delhi Police in the case where relatives of prominent people were alleged to be involved.

On Tuesday, additional sessions judge S.L. Bhayana acquitted Manu Sharma (alias Siddharth Vashist) of the charge of murder and Vikas Yadav (son of D.P. Yadav, former UP MP), Tony Gill and Alok Khanna (senior officials of a soft-drinks company) of the charge of destruction of evidence under sections 201 and 120-B of the IPC.

Shyam Sunder Sharma (a relative of former president Shankar Dayal Sharma), who was charged under sections 201 and 212, was acquitted of the charges of destruction of evidence and harbouring an accused. Four others — former cricketer Yograj Singh, Ruby alias Vikas Gill, Harinder Chopra and Raja Chopra — were acquitted of similar charges.

Earlier the court discharged Amit Jhingan besides declaring two others — R.K. Sudan and Dhanraj — proclaimed offenders in the case. Jinghan was arrested for allegedly ordering the cleaning up of bloodstains from the crime scene.

The judge said the suspects were acquitted on three main grounds. One, the weapon used for committing the crime was yet to be recovered by the police. Two, three key eyewitnesses — Shayan Munshi, Shiv Das and Karan Rajput — had turned hostile.

Three, while the prosecution said the two bullets which were fired belonged to one weapon, the CFSL report said they were fired from two different weapons.

R.K. Naseem, counsel for the defence, told HT that the evidence presented in the case was very weak to link the accused persons with the offence. Scientific evidence was against the prosecution story and investigating agencies were guilty in creating false evidence in the shape of documents and articles, he said.

First Published: Feb 22, 2006 01:12 IST