Don Bannanje brought to Udupi, to face trial in 16 cases

Don Bannanje brought to Udupi, to face trial in 16 cases

 Underworld don Bannanje Raja, who was extradited to India from Morocco on Friday, will be tried in only 16 of the 44 cases he is said to be involved in. On Saturday, he was brought to Udupi in connection with the murder of Ankola businessman R N Nayak.

A police team had flown him to New Delhi, then to Bengaluru and Belagavi. A special court in Belagavi remanded him in police custody till August 28. Ankola falls under the jurisdiction of the Belagavi special court. The Nayak murder case of 2013 formed the basis for the Moroccan government to extradite him. The case will be tried under KCOCA (The Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act, 2000). This Act can be tried only in Bengaluru, Belagavi and Mysuru courts.

Since Udupi Superintendent of Police, K Annamalai, is the investigating officer in the murder case, Raja has been brought to the coastal town. The Indian and Moroccan governments had agreed that Raja would be tried in not more than 16 cases. Of these, four are in Udupi (two at Udupi town station, one each at Malpe and Manipal police stations). Police feel they have strong evidence against him in these cases. These crimes were committed between 1993 and 1994.

To begin with, the police will interrogate him in the Nayak murder case. Thereafter, he will be produced before the Belagavi court which would then determine the next course of action. Meantime, he will be lodged in the Belagavi jail. Police from Bengaluru, Mysuru and Shivamogga will also seek Raja’s custody, Annamalai added.

According to the SP, the Udupi police will not seek Raja’s custody in other cases right away.

Later, however, they will apply for his body warrant and bring him to Udupi for interrogation in other cases. At that time, he will be produced before the Udupi court and the police would seek his separate custody. To a query, the SP said that Raja would be subjected to medical examination too.

Meanwhile, Raja is said to be co-operating in the investigation as he does not hope to be released on bail anytime soon. According to Annamalai, the due course of law caught up with Raja in Morocco after the Indian police furnished sufficient grounds for his extradition. He was given the opportunity to hire a lawyer. He has hired a lawyer in the R N Nayak murder case.

“He was moving around with three different Indian passports, all of which we have impounded,” the SP said. Raja was travelling in three different names. The name he used most often was Kumara Raja Hemanth Hegde. He will be tried in fake passport cases too.
The underworld don owned property in Morocco. Consequently, the Enforcement Directorate would be requested to seize his assets, the SP said. Raja also claimed that he ran furniture and garment business in Dubai.

When asked whether Raja indeed faced threat to life, the SP said that he would be provided foolproof security and kept in detention at an undisclosed location.

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