Friday, February 17, 2012

‘Key evidence ignored in Godhra train fire case’

DNA Correspondent | Ahmedabad

Salim Zarda, a man sentenced to death in the Sabarmati Express train carnage case, has alleged before the Gujarat high court that he was not given a 'fair trial' by the designated special court. Zarda has stated in his petition that a crucial piece of evidence was not considered during the trial of the case.

On Monday, the bench of justices Jayant Patel and Paresh Upadhyay was hearing Zarda's petition. In his petition, Zarda has demanded that the CDs prepared by the journalist, Ashish Khaitan, during a sting operation, be brought on record during the hearing of the appeal against the trial court's verdict.

Zarda's lawyer, Nithya Ramakrishnan, submitted before the high court that the trial court had turned down their request to summon Khaitan during the trial of the Godhra train carnage case.

Ashish Khaitan, a journalist working for Tehelka magazine, had done a sting operation on many people, including witnesses of the Sabarmati Express train carnage and people suspected to have played a role in the communal riots of 2002.

In the secretly recorded video, two star witnesses of the train burning case, Prabhatsinh Patel and Ranjit Patel, are shown as saying that they were given money to give a statement that six accused of the case had come to get loose petrol from Kalabhai petrol pump on the night of February 26, 2002.

On February 27, 2002, a violent mob set fire to S6 compartment of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra railway station, killing 59 karsevaks.

Ramakrishnan submitted before the court that the trial court's refusal to summon Khaitan as defence witness and take his CDs on record had taken away the right of the accused to a defence.

In sentencing the accused to death, the trial court had relied upon the statement of the two key witnesses of the case, Prabhatsinh Patel and Ranjit Patel. She further argued that the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), which had taken over the investigation of the case, had relied on Khaitan's testimony and his CDs in the trial of other cases but it had shown no inclination to accept it as evidence during the hearing of the Godhra train carnage case. After hearing the arguments, the high court bench reserved its order on the petition. Zarda is among the 11 accused sentenced to death by the special judge PR Patel.


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Right. Every one else lies - the courts, the police, the administration; but you alone tell the truth

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