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Witnesses Turning Hostile, Aseemanand Retracting Confession Led to Mecca Masjid Acquittal: Prosecutor

NIA Prosecutor N Harinath, who came under attack from opposition parties following the judgement over his past association with the ABVP, said his former links to the Hindu right organisation had got nothing to do with his current profession and the duties he was supposed to discharge.

PTI

Updated:April 20, 2018, 8:18 PM IST
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Witnesses Turning Hostile, Aseemanand Retracting Confession Led to Mecca Masjid Acquittal: Prosecutor
A combination of file photos show Hindu preacher Swami Aseemanand (left) and NIA prosecutor N Harinath.
Hyderabad: The NIA prosecutor in the Mecca Masjid blast case said on Friday witnesses turning hostile and retraction of confessional statement by Hindu preacher Swami Aseemanand may have led to the acquittal of the five accused.

His comments come in the wake of an anti-terror court acquitting the accused belonging to right-wing organisations in the 2007 blast case. The court, while setting them free, held that the prosecution had failed to prove "even a single allegation" against them.

The prosecutor, N Harinath, said he was yet to receive a copy of the order from the court and a clear picture would emerge only after he gets it.

Harinath, who came under attack from opposition parties following the judgement over his past association with the ABVP, the RSS' student outfit, said his former links to the Hindu right organisation had got nothing to do with his current profession and the duties he was supposed to discharge.

"Out of 226 witnesses (in the case) more than 66 witnesses turned hostile in the court. They said they were never examined by police and never stated anything before police.

"So a witness, who has given evidence in favour the prosecution at the time of filing of the charge sheet, comes to the court and says that he has never given the statement... what can a prosecutor do and what can prosecution do?" Harinath said.

He also said Aseemanand, who had made a confessional statement under CrPC section 164 (to a magistrate), retracted it later in a Delhi court. Under the section, any confession or statement can be made before a magistrate in the course of an investigation.

A massive blast had ripped through the over four centuries-old Mecca Masjid on May 18, 2007, during the Friday prayers, killing nine people and wounding 58. Harinath also claimed the authorities of the mosque washed the premises a day after the blast which might have led to destruction of some crucial forensic evidence. Harinath said he was associated with the ABVP when he was studying law in 1990.

"That is only a students" organisation, and once the student life is over and we get in to active practice, we don"t really bother about student politics," he said. When asked whether an appeal would be filed against the verdict in a higher court, he said, it was up to the NIA, the country's premier agency that probes terror-related cases, to take a decsion on the issue.

"Once the order copy comes, we will submit it to the NIA headquarters. Then they also will take opinion from legal experts. Depending on that the NIA will take a call on whether to file an appeal or not," Harinath said.

AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi has sought a re-trial in the case or filing an appeal against the verdict. The case was initially probed by local police before being transferred to the CBI, and finally in 2011 to the NIA. Ten people with alleged links to Hindu right-wing organisations were accused in the case. However, only five of them who were acquitted faced trial.

Two other accused -- Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra -- are absconding, while Sunil Joshi was murdered. Investigation is continuing against two other accused.

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| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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