Mumbai Blast Case: Abu Salem and 5 others found guilty

Mumbai city news

Twenty-four years after 257 persons were killed and 713 injured in the first serial blasts in the city of Mumbai in 1993, six men were convicted by a special court on Friday.

The court found the six men - Abu Salem, Mustafa Dossa, Feroz Khan, Taher Merchant, Riyaz Siddiqui and Karimulla Khan - guilty on charges of criminal conspiracy, transporting weapons and murder, which are punishable by a maximum penalty of death. Read Also: 1993 Mumbai serial blasts: TADA Court holds six accused guilty, including Abu Salem; one let off As per the defence, since the trial of the current accused was separated from the earlier trial, confessions from the earlier trial can not be used in the current leg. He also handed over to actor Sanjay Dutt, who was an accused in the case for illegally possessing weapons, AK 56 rifles, 250 bullets and some hand grenades at his residence.

The special court will pronounce the quantum of sentence Monday.

Prior, the court had dropped certain charges against Salem in 2013 after the researching office CBI moved a request, saying those charges were against the removal bargain amongst India and Portugal.

In the first leg of the trial that concluded in 2007, the anti-terrorism court had convicted 100 people, out of which, 23 were acquitted. On March 12, 1992, 12 bomb blasts shook Mumbai, targeting places including Bombay Stock Exchange, Century Bazaar, Sea Rock and Air India building, among others. With the increasing heat from the police and growing list of serious accusations against him, he fled the country and found refuge in Portugal, where he stayed until his arrest in 2005. "We would decide after reading the details", CBI lawyer Deepak Salve said when asked if the prosecution would seek the death sentence.

The accused are individually or jointly held guilty of the major charges, comprising conspiracy hatched in 15 meetings in different places including Dubai, creating terror, supplying arms and ammunition, killing, damage to public and private properties, in the blasts carried out at 13 prime locations. The under trials, who were arrested between 2003 and 2010, are facing multiple charges which include criminal conspiracy, waging war against the Government of India and murder. The shooter had shot at his wife and sister and is also involved in several cases.

Karimullah Sheikh was convicted on charges of smuggling arms. In his verdict, Judge Sanap termed Dossa a member of the "core group of conspirators", and the one "who initiated the first step towards achieving the main object of conspiracy by sending arms and ammunitions to India".

According to the prosecution, the attack was to avenge the demolition of Babri Masjid.

However, 33 accused are still absconding, including key conspirators Dawood Ibrahim, his brother Anees Ibrahim, Mustafa's brother Mohammed Dossa and Tiger Memon. But he can not be hanged till death because of the extradition treaty signed with Portugal.

One of the most high profile, Yakub Memon, was executed in 2015 - a decade after he was convicted under controversial anti-terror legislation that is no longer on the statute books. However, keeping in mind the provisions of section 34C of the Extradition Act in India, Nikam demanded a life sentence for Salem. "When the accused are held guilty of charges of conspiracy, it is not necessary to prove that the accused agreed for the same".

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