This is no compliment to the Mumbai Police. More than a decade after the Kandahar plane hijacking, two men - already convicted for their role in it - are among three recently acquitted by the Sessions Court.
The trio was being tried for the theft of a van used in a bank heist that allegedly funded the hijack.
The prosecution’s case for the vehicle robbery before the City Sessions Court failed because the sole eyewitness could not be traced. This acquittal has also put the connected case of the subsequent bank robbery at risk.
The prosecution’s story is that on October 6, 1999, two armed men robbed a white Maruti van belonging to Mohan Bangera.
It was parked next to the Orlem Church bus-stop at Malad and the driver was fixing the van’s rear-view mirror when Abdul Latif, Bhopalmann Khan and Mushtaq Ahmed Azmi allegedly dragged him out at gunpoint and fled with the vehicle.
Latif and Khan were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008 by a special Patiala court for their role in the IC-814 hijack.
In the second case, the trial for which is under way, the prosecution alleges that that the trio used this car to rob Borivali’s Maharashtra bank of Rs 7.72 lakh on October 30, 1999.
The bank heist was allegedly pulled off along with three Pakistani nationals and the car was later found abandoned. On December 30, the police arrested five accused - one Pakistani is still wanted - from Jogeshwari’s Behram Baug.
They recovered Rs 1.72 lakh from them. The remaining Rs 7 lakh is believed to have been sent to the hijackers in Pakistan for the hijacking.
The police had also recovered two AK-56 rifles, 30 live rounds, hand grenades and rocket launchers from them.
Success in the second case is partly dependent on the first. The prosecution could not prove the car theft because the police are unable to trace the sole eyewitness, the driver.
The owner of the car Bangera has passed away. The testimonies of a panch witness and three cops weren’t of any help in establishing the case. Assistant Sessions Judge M J Mirza on Tuesday acquitted the trio.
Article source : Mumbai mirror