'Failure to produce videos, photos of pub attack led to acquittal of accused'

'Failure to produce videos, photos of pub attack led to acquittal of accused'

The magistrate who acquitted 26 accused in the 2009 pub attack case in Mangaluru observed that the prosecution should have produced video clippings and photographs of the attack and the female victims as witnesses before the court to bring out the truth.

The court on March 12 acquitted all the 26 people including Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik citing lack of evidence. The charges against them included assaulting men and women customers at the pub, besides damaging property.

Second Judicial Magistrate First Class Manjunatha R said that the prosecution did not prove the involvement of the accused in the incident by means of eyewitnesses.

During the inquiry, the prosecution had alleged that reporters were waiting outside the pub during the attack. They had captured photographs and videos. The photographs and videos were strong evidence to prove the involvement of the accused. However, the investigation officer failed to produce both the video and photographs of the attack which proved costly for the prosecution, he said.

The charge sheet claimed that female victims were assaulted. However, the investigation officer had not named them as witnesses. They were not produced before the court as well. In such cases, women victims become major witnesses in the court, he observed.

"Non-securing the victim creates a doubt in the mind of this court about the involvement of the accused persons as alleged by the prosecution," the judge said in his 30-page judgment.

The magistrate further observed: "...Prosecution witness from No 6 to 9 are the workers of the bar. They are the best witnesses to depose the presence of the accused persons. But they have also not supported the prosecution case as they failed to identify the accused persons...."

The magistrate noted that the complainant Dr Rajashekhar, bar owner Santhosh too did not identify the accused.

He also noted that the prosecution had not examined Police Inspector Vinay Naik who investigated the case in addition to investigation officers Umesh Shet and Vinay Gaonker.

"This also creates doubt in the mind of this court about the case projected by the prosecution," the magistrate said. He also noted that there was a 16-hour delay in dispatching the FIR before the court.

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