Criminal lawyer Mubin Solkar has decided to defend Abdul Samad Bhatkal, the prime suspect in the Pune bomb blast, who has been arrested by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in a 2009 arms seizure case.

“I was approached by Abdul’s family last night after which I decided to represent him. I have nothing to say about him at this stage as I am still holding talks with the family,” Mr. Solkar said on Thursday.

Two days after Bhatkal’s arrest in Mangalore, his mother Bibi Rehana, uncle Mohammad Ali Siddibapa and aunt Halima arrived here from the port city in Karnataka to look for a lawyer to defend the 23-year-old.

Though Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said Bhatkal is the key suspect in the February 13 explosion in Pune’s German Bakery, ATS has booked him only in the arms case.

In August 2009, ATS had arrested three aides of gangster Chhota Shakeel for possession of firearms. According to the investigating agency, Bhatkal was the supplier of the arms. He is in police custody till June 1.

Solkar (32) had earlier represented Saquib Nachan, an alleged SIMI activist, in the December 2002 Ghatkopar bomb blast case. Nachan was later discharged.

He is also representing some accused in the Mulund, Vile Parle and Mumbai Central blasts of 2002-03.