Sentencing on Thursday; five co-accused still at large

A trial court here on Monday held Mirza Hinayat Inayat Baig guilty of planning and executing the 2010 German Bakery blasts that killed 17 people and injured 58.

Baig, 33, the only person to have been arrested and tried, has been charged under several Sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Explosive Substances Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, five of which attract the death penalty.

Additional Sessions Judge N.P. Dhote told the accused that going by the evidence, the court held him guilty of planning and executing the February 13, 2010 blasts.

The quantum of the sentence will be announced on April 18, after the arguments of defence and the prosecution are heard. Baig has been convicted under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) 435 (mischief with intent to cause damage), 435 and 474 (possessing forged documents) of the Indian Penal Code. He was also convicted under Sections 3 (causing an explosion to endanger life) and 4 (making an explosive to endanger life) and 5 (making or possessing explosives under suspicious circumstances) of the Explosive Substances Act; and various Sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

As the judge, speaking in Hindi, explained the charges, and the possible punishment, Baig stood in silence, his hand folded across his chest. Hailing from Beed in Maharashtra’s Marathwada region, Baig is believed to have been indoctrinated at a young age.

He allegedly went into hiding after the blasts. He was arrested in Pune in September 2010. In December 2010, the Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad filed a charge sheet, which also named as co-accused Fayyaz Kagzi, Yasin Bhatkal, Iqbal and Riyaz Bhatkal and Mohsin Chaudhari, who are still at large, and Zabiuddin Ansari, who was arrested in Delhi last year.

Baig is alleged to have received training in Colombo, a charge his lawyer A. Rehman said was not proven since no investigating officer had visited the site for corroborating the evidence. He told journalists: “I will definitely challenge the verdict in the High Court. I am sure I will get justice.”

It’s unique, says Maria

Staff Reporter reports from Mumbai:

Describing the conviction of Baig as probably the first in the country of any Indian Mujahedeen terrorist, ATS chief Rakesh Maria has called it unique among others. “His conviction, apart from being the first of any IM operative in the country, is also unique since Baig has been convicted under all the sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Explosives Substance Act.”

The explosion was also the first wherein the IM and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) worked together, he said.

Explaining Baig’s role in the blasts, Mr. Maria said he did the reconnaissance of German Bakery, along with Yasin Bhatkal, on January 31, 2010. “He… set up a cyber café at Udgir,” where bomb materials were put together.

On the day of the blast, he accompanied Yasin to a point, carrying a bag and a Nokia phone.

The 2,670-page charge sheet against Baig was prepared in 90 days and was submitted on December 4, 2010. Around 20 ATS officers, along with 150 others, worked on the case, examining 281 witnesses.

Mr. Maria said five more accused — Iqbal, Riyaz and Yasin Bhatkal, Mohsin Chaudhari and Fayyaz Kagzi — were still absconding. A red corner notice had been issued against all of them.