A National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court here on Thursday convicted 13 persons accused in the assassination plot terror case (LeT conspiracy case), after they filed applications pleading guilty.
Sources in the NIA said that this was the first time the accused have pleaded guilty in a terror case. The court will pronounce the quantum of punishment on Friday.
The NIA case was that some members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Harkat-Ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) based in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had hatched a conspiracy to carry out target killings of certain people in Bengaluru, Hubballi, Hyderabad and Nanded.
Those convicted are Shoaib Ahmed Mirza, Abdul Hakeem Jamadar, Riyaz Ahmed Byahatti, Mohammed Akram, Ubedullah Bahaduur, Wahid Hussain Kanakyanavar, Dr Zafar Iqbal Sholapur, Mohammad Sadiq Lashkar, Mehboob Bagalkote, Obaid-ur-Rehman, Dr Nayeem Siddique, Dr Imran Ahmed and Syed Tanzim Ahmed. Some of the accused are still absconding, according to the NIA.
The accused have been convicted under the provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Indian Penal Code (IPC). Of the accused, Shoaib Ahmed Mirza, Abdul Hakeem Jamadar, Mohammed Akram and Ubedullah Bahadur have also been convicted under Section 3 of the Arms Act for possession of unlicensed pistols.
Public Prosecutor for the NIA, Arjun Ambalapatta told DH that the court on Thursday admitted the application moved by all the accused. “The accused had filed the plead guilty application a few weeks ago. The quantum of punishment will be pronounced on Friday,'' he said.
A senior advocate said that in 2009, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, one of the accused in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case, pleaded guilty before the commencement of the trial. However, the court decided to continue the trial, despite Kasab's pleading.
“This is also the first time wherein all the accused in a case have filed the application pleading guilty even as the trial was going on,'' the advocate said.
“The accused had filed petitions pleading the court to have mercy on them and stated that they wanted to join the mainstream. The prosecution has also not pressed for the maximum punishment since the accused have pleaded guilty.
However, the prosecution has made a submission requesting a slightly higher punishment to the those convicted under the Arms Act,'' an advocate said.
DH News Service
Only 13 of 248 witnesses examined
A team of Central Crime Branch, Bengaluru City, led by the then Assistant Commissioner of Police K N Jitendranath had made the first arrest in the case on August 29, 2012. The case was handed over to the NIA and the first charge sheet was filed in February 2013 against 12 accused. The supplementary charge sheets were filed in May 2013 and May 2014. The trial commenced from June 2013 and, of the 248 witnesses listed by the NIA, only 13 were examined till date. The deposition of Jitendranath, who was the investigating officer and the complainant in the case, had taken one year since the commencement of the trial.