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4 members of Memon family convicted

Agencies

Posted: Sep 12, 2006 at 0909 hrs IST

Finally after 13 years, the first phase of the delivery of judgements have begun, convicting the four members of the Memon family, Yakub Memon, Essa Memon, Yusuf Memon and Rubina Memon on charges of possessing unauthorised arms, abetment, conspiracy and harbouring the accused.

Yakub Memon, the financer of the entire operation, created ruckus inside the courtroom saying he was being implicated falsely.

In a burst of anger, after their request was rejected, Yakub, who is also a Chartered Accountant by profession, stood up and shouted that he and his family did not want any lawyer to argue on their behalf for the quantum of sentence. "We have seen that for the last 13 years innocent people have been labelled terrorists. We do not need anyone to protect us," an enraged Yakub said. Later he moved to the dock where the other accused were sitting and his brothers were seen consoling him.

The court will later on Tuesday hear arguments from both the defence and the prosecution on the quantum of punishment to be given to the four convicts.

The sentence could vary from five years to a life term sentence.

Meanwhile, the court granted bail to Rubina on compassionate grounds. Rubina, who would be out till her sentence begins, was granted bail after paying a surety amount of Rs 5 lakh.

Yakub Memon's had pleaded before the court to allow one week's time for Rubina to surrender, as she has to take care of her children and make appropriate arrangements for them.

However, three members of the Memon family, Suleiman Memon, Hanifa Memon and Raheen Memom, have been acquitted of all charges.

The eighth member, Tiger Memon, has been declared absconding while his father Abdul Razzak passed away during the trial.

All the members of the Memon family including Yakub, had escaped to Dubai and from Mumbai to Pakistan. However, except Tiger and his brother Ayub, the entire family returned to India and arrested by CBI in 1994.

Since then Yakub has been in custody and is undergoing treatment as he suffers from depression, according to his lawyer Subhash Kanse.

Tiger is believed to be residing in Pakistan running a real estate business.

Giving another twist to the unprecedented case, the designated TADA judge P D Kode decided to deliver the much-awaited verdict in batches of eight, starting on Tuesday with the Memons.

The judge is likely to divide the groups based on charges. The verdict would be delivered on a day-to-day basis.

However, verdict on Sanjay Dutt, accused number 117, is likely to come after 2 to 4 weeks.

There were also reports of the absence of three accused on medical grounds, which led to a procedural delay in the pronouncement of the verdict. However, trial is very much on track.

Although the court proceedings had begun on August 10, the designated judge P D Kode had postponed the judgement to September 12.

Considering the testimony of 686 witnesses in over 13,000 pages of evidence tendered by them the court is said to take more than a fortnight to deliver the entire verdict.

The security in and around the court had been tightened and police had imposed section 144 CrPC in and around the court premises banning the assembly of five or more persons.

The case is historic, as CBI, the prosecuting agency, has examined 686 witnesses with the court recording 13,000 pages as evidence during the trial that went on for six years - a record of sorts in Indian legal history and also the Asia's longest trial.

Ninety four accused, including Sanjay Dutt are currently on bail, while 29 others are in jail custody. Trial of three more accused - Abu Salem, Riyaz Siddiqui and Mustafa Dossa - has been separated as they were arrested much later.

Eleven of the accused died during trial while one, Riyaz Khatri jumped bail and two others - Samajwadi Party MP Abu Asim Azmi and Amjad Mehr Baksh - were discharged by the Supreme Court.

Twenty nine accused were discharged earlier by the Supreme Court while 29 accused were declared absconding, when the chargesheet was filed in 1993 soon after the bomb blasts.

The blasts were masterminded by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim with the help of his lieutenants Tiger Memon and Mohammed Dossa, allegedly at the instance of Pakistan's Intelligence Agency, ISI, to avenge demolition of disputed Babri Masjid, the CBI has claimed in the chargesheet.

According to Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, the conspiracy meetings were held at the House of co-accused Babloo and Mubina Baya Bhiwandiwala, adopted sister of Tiger Memon. Another round of meetings were also held at Dubai and in Persian Durbar Hotel at Panvel.

Nikam said there is evidence against Dawood Ibrahim, but defence lawyer Farhana Shah said the only evidence against him was the statement of co accused Dawood Phanse.

In furtherance of conspiracy, Tiger Memon at the instance of Dawood and his absconding brother Anees Ibrahim, summoned his men Dawood Taklya, Abdul Kadar, Aziz Mohamed Shaikh, Ahmed Shah Khan, Yakub Memon, Ayub Memon, Taher Taklya and Mohammed Dossa between December 1992 to January 1993 to chalk out plans to create explosions and strike terror.

Twenty five accused were sent to Pakistan via Dubai for training in arms and ammunition. Their visits were sponsored by local firms in Dubai and trips were arranged in collusion with Pakistani agents as it transpired during investigations that no immigration and emigration formalities were observed at Islamabad airport, according to chargesheet filed by CBI. They travelled by Pakistan international airlines and their passports were collected by Tiger Memon and his men. It also transpired during investigations that the accused were indoctrinated by their foreign trainers that Muslims in India had suffered heavily during communal riots of 1992-93 and thus their religious sentiments were exploited to strike terror.

Bulk of finance relating to travel of accused to Pakistan for arms training came from Yakub Memon and Ayub Memon, brothers of Tiger Memon.

Eighteen other accused took part in training programmes in villages Sandheri and Bhorghat in Raigad district. They were trained to handle AK-56 rifle, 9mm pistols, hurling hand grenades and in the use of RDX.

The first witness to step into the box was accused-turned approver Mohammed Khatlab who spilled the beans and disclosed the conspiracy saying he was lured by accused Farooq Motorwala to attend a meeting in Dubai called by Tiger Memon. He visited Dubai and also went to Pakistan but returned without taking arms training on the pretext of ill-health.

The second witness was also an approver, Mohammed Usmanjan Khan and he said he was involved in every stage of the conspiracy - attending meetings, participating in arms training and bomb making in Pakistan, stuffing RDX in cars and scooters and parking the vehicles in targetted places.

He identified 33 accused in the court as the members of Tiger Memon team, who had helped the perpetrators in executing the blasts. Usman Jan Khan also told the court that RDX came in a ship from Pakistan and were transported in another vessel, which landed at Shekhadi Coast. The approver also named the accused, which helped Tiger Memon in landing operations and transporting explosives to other parts of the city.

A day before the blasts RDX was stuffed in boots of cars and scooters in the garages of al-Husseini building where Tiger Memon and his family own four flats.

Among the accused were few customs officers including s Nthapa, who were arrested and dismissed from service on the charge of helping Tiger Memon in getting away with explosives despite an intelligence alert in this regard. Others were police officers, who had allowed the consignment to pass in vehicles although they took the Defence that they contained silver bricks and not RDX.

Actor Sanjay Dutt also found himself in the dock with the allegation that he had accepted AK-56 rifle from Abu Salem.

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