Let NIA complete probe, Pune blast convict tells court

Mumbai, Aug 12 : The sole convict in the 2010 German Bakery blast in Pune, Himayat Mirza Baig, Monday urged the Bombay High Court to defer hearing his matter until the National Investigation Agency completed its probe in the case.

Baig's appeal was made through his lawyer Mehmood Pracha when the Bombay High Court took up the confirmation of the death sentence awarded to him by a Pune sessions court and his appeal against it.

Pracha argued that while the Anti-Terrorism Squad had probed the case, later the NIA took over the investigations in the matter, along with other major terrorist cases like the Malegaon 2006 and 2008 blasts and the Samjhauta Express, among others.

"In four cases, the NIA probe negated the ATS findings. In the 2006 Malegaon case, the accused nabbed by the ATS in 2006 have been granted bail after the NIA said they were innocent," Pracha said.

He argued out that "if tomorrow, the NIA says that Baig was not involved in the 2010 German Bakery blast, then it would be too late".

Accordingly, he urged the division bench comprising Justice V.K. Tahilramani and Justice Mrudula Bhatkar to refrain from hearing the confirmation of death sentence and Baig's appeal against it until the NIA completed its ongoing probe in the matter.

The matter will come up for the next hearing tomorrow (Tuesday), with Baig being produced through video-conferencing, Pracha said.

During the hearing, Baig also claimed that he was not given a proper defence in the lower court, resulting in his getting the death penalty.

He further complained that he was suffering from headaches due to weak eyesight and throat problems, following which the court directed the jail authorities to arrange for necessary medical tests and treatment.

Last April, Baig was convicted and awarded the death sentence for his role in the Feb. 13, 2010 German Bakery blast in Pune's Koregaon park area which left 17 people, including five foreigners, dead and another 58 injured.

Five other accused named in the ATS charge-sheet -- Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Yasin Bhatkal, Mohsin Choudhary and Fayyaz Kagzi -- are still absconding.

--IANS (Posted on 13-08-2013)

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