//Confessions dry up, ATS case falling apart

Confessions dry up, ATS case falling apart

Menaka Rao, Indian Express, October 27, 2006

7/11: With two more accused citing police lapses, it’s left with only three key statements

Mumbai, OCTOBER 26 : Weeks after claiming to have got to the bottom of the 7/11 train blast case, the anti-terrorist squad (ATS) seems to be losing its grip on the case. Two more accused have laid the grounds for retracting their confessional statements, leaving the Mumbai police with only three of the 11 confessions it had.

Thursday marked another setback for the ATS in the MCOCA court after six accused appeared before it (five were remanded to police custody, while one was remanded to judicial custody). Two of them—Sajid Ansari and Abdul Wahiduddin— said they were made to sign statements “involuntarily”.

“If a person is made to sign on a document and not allowed to read it, it can be said the statement is made involuntarily. If this is proved in court, the confession statement would not hold,” explained defence lawyer Amin Solkar.

Ansari, who was allegedly among those who assembled the bombs which were used on 7/11, told special MCOCA judge M S Bhatkar, “Kal mera confessional statement liya gaya tha. Saab ne mujhe padhne nahi diya. Sign le liya (Yesterday, they recorded my confession statement. The DCP (Sanjay Mohite) did not allow me to read my statement before signing it).’’

Wahiduddin, who has been accused of harbouring Pakistani militants in the city and also arranging their escape, told the court that his signature was obtained twice on documents, the contents of which isn’t known to him. “Do baar mera sign liya gaya. Kya likha tha malum nahi (My signature was taken twice. I don’t know what was written in those documents).’’

Soon after these statements were made, special public prosecutor Raja Thackeray told the court the confessions of the six produced in court had not been taken. “I have received instructions (from the officer). Confession has not been taken,” he said.

But this contradicted what ATS joint commissioner K P Raghuvanshi said later at a press conference. He said the confessions of the four accused, Mohammed Ali, Sajid Ansari, Naveed Hussain and Mohammed Majeed Shafi had been recorded.

Refuting defence allegations, Raghuvanshi also insisted that MCOCA procedures were followed while recording confession statements. “This investigation has been carried out as per the guidelines prescribed under MCOCA. I can assure you that proper procedure was followed,” he said. He also denied allegations of torture of the accused. “None of the men we’ve kept in our custody has complained to the court of police torture,” he said.

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