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U-turn by witness may clear Pandher in Nithari case

Nov 15, 2007 09:10 PM IST India India

New Delhi: He's one of the most important witnesses in the trial of one of India's most horrific crimes. And he's now going back on his statements. On Thursday, Nand Lal, whose daughter Payal's murder had led to the Nithari serial killings coming to light, gave a clean chit to prime suspect Moninder Singh Pandher. Nand Lal had told the court earlier that he had seen the police recovering a saw from Pandher's bathroom. He also claimed that he had seen Pandher's manager giving a bribe to former Deputy Superintendent of Police Dinesh Yadav during the CBI investigation. The statement was held as key in nailing Pandher, who is a prime suspect in the case. But Nand Lal has now retracted on his testimony. He says his lawyer Khalid Khan had asked him to make the statements — a charge Khan denies. "Nand Lal had moved four applications and it was on his statement that the case diary was sealed and Pandher was charged under 302. The lawyer could not utter a single word while the statement was on. How can he blame me now?" Nithari victim's lawyer Khalid Khan said. The retraction by Nand Lal comes as a big relief for the Pandher camp. "We always believed in God and this has only proved us right. We are hoping to be proved not guilty in all other cases," Moninder Singh Pandher's lawyer Devraj Singh said. While the developments dealt a setback to Nithari victims, it also meant a boost to the prosecution's case. Strange as it may sound, the truth is that the CBI has always maintained that Pandher was not guilty of rape and murder and the latest twist has only proved the Central agency right. The victims' families, however, say they will still be able to prove Pandher's guilt from circumstantial evidence and the testimonies of other witnesses.