A city court here on Thursday sentenced Rashid Malabari, an alleged associate of underworld operative Chota Shakeel, and his associate Mohammed Hasim to five years of rigorous imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs. 10,000 each.

Since the duo have been in the prison as under-trials for nearly four and half years, they are likely to be released early next year.

The Fourth Additional District and Sessions Judge B.K. Naik convicted the duo in an illegal arms case on Monday.

The two are currently lodged in Mangalore District Jail.

Malabari and Hasim were convicted under Section 25 (1) (A) of the Arms Act 1959. The two were among the nine persons arrested by Mangalore police in March 29, 2009 following information that they were allegedly trying to shoot down BJP leader Varun Gandhi and right wing leader Pramod Mutalik. The judge, however, acquitted the duo and seven others of murder conspiracy.

While pronouncing the sentence, the judge on Thursday considered the 53 months Malabari spent in the prison as under-trial. Public Prosecutor Manjunath V. Bhat Panne said he will go through the judgement and then decide about filing an appeal. Mr. Panne had sought maximum sentence against Malabari and Hasim.

Mangalore: While leaving the court, Rashid Malabari alleged that Central Crime Branch Police Inspector Venkatesh Prasanna had fixed him in the case. He accused the inspector of taking orders from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. “I will challenge this judgement in High Court and get acquitted. I will then meet Mr. Prasanna personally,” he told the reporters on the court premises.

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