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NIA not to oppose bail of Malegaon blast accused: Chidambaram

Monday October 31, 2011 09:35:44 PM, IANS

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New Delhi/Mumbai: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will not oppose the bail plea of nine accused in the 2006 Malegaon blast case, being heard by a special court in Mumbai.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters here Monday that the NIA had concluded that the accused, who are in jail, need not remain in judicial custody any longer.

Meanwhile, the agency has sought from the court time till Nov 4 to file its report on its investigation in the case and its arguments on the bail plea from the nine accused.

Chidambaram, at his monthly press conference in New Delhi, said: "As far as the NIA is concerned, which is now in-charge of investigating the case, they are not opposing bail. The NIA has concluded that they no longer remain in judicial custody and therefore the NIA will not oppose bail."

He was asked if the nine accused would be granted bail, now that Swami Aseemanand, belonging to a Hindu rightwing group, had confessed to have carried out the bomb attack.

"Whether the bail will be granted or not is not for me, but for the court to say... But the decision is not the NIA's. It is the court's decision... As far as the investigating agency is concerned, they have told me that they are not opposing bail," he said.

Asked if this would mean the nine accused are innocent, Chidambaram replied in the negative.

"No. Until any other person involved is found, charge-sheeted, and until the old charge-sheet is revised, we cannot come to a conclusion one way or another. There is a confession and investigation is in progress into some other areas or some other direction," he added.

Meanwhile, the NIA sought time, till Friday (Nov 4), from the special court in Mumbai to file its report and additional charge-sheet against nine accused in the Malegaon bomb blast case, a lawyer said.

The NIA informed the designated Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court that it would also file its arguments on the bail petition of the accused that day, said A. Tamboli, the lawyer for eight of the accused.

"Following this, Special Judge Y.D. Shinde adjourned the hearing in the case to Nov 19," Tamboli told IANS, soon after the hearing this evening.

All the nine accused were produced before the court under heavy security.

Aseemanand, who is in judicial custody, had earlier confessed to his involvement and that of a Hindu group in the Sep 8, 2006, blast near Hamidia Mosque in Malegaon, killing 37 people, shortly after the Friday afternoon prayers.

"We have contended that from Swami Aseemanand's confessional statement, it is clear that those responsible for the 2006 Malegaon blasts, are persons far removed from the current accused," said lawyer Khalid Azmi, who is also representing some of the accused.

Azmi pleaded on behalf of the accused that they have been languishing in jail for over four years and "there is no direct evidence of their involvement in the said offence and it was only based on forcibly-taken confession statement".

The accused are: Abrar Ahmed, who is represented by his brother, lawyer Jalil Ansari, Salman Farsi, Shabbir Ahmed, Nurulhooda, Rais Ahmed, Mohammed Ali, Asif Khan, Javed Sheikh and Farogh Makhdomi, represented by Tamboli and Azmi.





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