Mumbai: Extradited gangster Abu Salem was on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment by a special TADA court in the 1995 murder case of Mumbai-based builder Pradeep Jain.
The court also handed out life imprisonment to Salem's driver Mehndi Hassan while another accused Virendra Jhamb's sentence was set off against the period of detention undergone by him in prison during the various stages of investigation in the case. 86-year-old Jhamb was in jail for nearly 9 months after his arrest in 2005 in connection with the murder of Jain.
"Abu Salem is sentenced to life imprisonment for the offences of murder and criminal conspiracy," observed special TADA Judge GA Sanap while reading out the verdict.
"This is a historic decision. Abu Salem was in Dubai when he planned the murder of Pradeep Jain. After that, he kept evading the law. In 2005, he was captured in Portugal. He fought a lot of legal battles to save himself," said public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.
"Finally, today the court gave him the appropriate punishment. In the Pradeep Jain murder case, he was awarded the life sentence and 2 lakh fine as punishment," Nikam said.
According to police, on March 7, 1995, Jain was shot dead by assailants outside his Juhu bungalow after he allegedly refused to part with his huge property to Salem.
Since then, Salem, Jhamb and Hassan were facing trial in the case. While accused Naeem Khan turned approver, another accused Riyaz Siddiqui, who had also become approver, later turned hostile in the court.
Trial of Siddiqui was later separated.
The court, in January last year, had dropped some sections against Salem in the case after the prosecution sought for the same saying that some charges need to be withdrawn in order to maintain cordial relations between two sovereign countries - India and Portugal.
Salem, an accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, was extradited from Portugal on November 11, 2005, after a prolonged legal battle.
The Supreme Court of Portugal, in 2012, had dismissed an appeal of the CBI which had challenged termination of his extradition. He has also moved Supreme Court of Portugal seeking directions to the Indian government to execute its order of cancelling his extradition.
In June 2012, Salem was shot at in Taloja Central jail in Navi Mumbai allegedly by gangster Devendra Jagtap alias JD, an accused in the murder case of advocate Shahid Azmi who had represented a 26/11 Mumbai attack accused....