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Witnesses baffled as many terror accused gain weight in prison

Mahesh Trivedi
Filed on May 19, 2015

Many of the 77 accused lodged in the high-security central jail in Ahmedabad have put on weight, grown full beards and have larger eyebrows with the result that witnesses are finding it difficult to identify them.

Ahmedabad: The long-delayed trial in the July 26, 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts case in which 57 people were killed has hit a novel hurdle.

Many of the 77 accused lodged in the high-security central jail in Ahmedabad have put on weight, grown full beards and have larger eyebrows with the result that witnesses are finding it difficult to identify them.

The special court hearing the case has turned down the state government’s plea to allow prosecution witnesses to identify the accused from a heap of their old photographs affixed on the charge-sheets.

The court dismissed the prosecution’s plea after citing the existing criminal law which allows witnesses to identify the accused only at an identification parade.

The state’s contention was that the witnesses would find it difficult to identify the accused at an identification parade after a lapse of eight years because the accused had put on weight and grown beards while in jail. The special public prosecutor even said that the accused could not be asked to shave off their beards as it could hurt their religious sentiments.

Some of the accused had even unsuccessfully tried to escape from jail by digging a 218-feet-long tunnel in 2012.

Twenty-six of the 77 accused had participated in the alleged camp held in Waghamon in 2007 where they received training for execution of bomb explosions.

It was allegedly at this camp that the Indian Mujahideen was formed and plans to execute serial blasts in Ahmedabad and Surat were made. The 77 accused from Gujarat and six other states are being tried in the serial blasts case in which 21 bomb explosions had jolted Ahmedabad on July 26, 2008, killing 57 men, women and children and seriously injuring 250 others.

mahesh@khaleejtimes.com


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