Staff Reporter

Contract killer Mani Gopal killed the witness six years ago

Accused had pumped three bullets into the victim

Police had arrested the killer on the spot

NEW DELHI: A court here on Friday awarded the death sentence to a contract killer holding him guilty of shooting dead a witness to a murder case inside the Tis Hazari courts premises here six years ago.

The contract killer had murdered the witness, a eunuch, when she was going to the courtroom to record her evidence in the murder case.

Geeta Hazi of Rajouri Garden in the Capital had allegedly hired the contract killer, Mani Gopal, to eliminate Neelam to settle disputes between them over control of areas for collection of customary donations and gifts on auspicious occasions.

The accused had pumped three bullets into the victim, killing her on the spot. The police had arrested the killer on the spot along with the weapon of offence.

Geeta Hazi had earlier in 2002 hired another killer to eliminate Neelam. But instead of killing Neelam, the killer had murdered another eunuch. However, the court had acquitted the earlier killer in a separate trial for want of evidence.

In the current case also the court acquitted Geeta Hazi because the prosecution failed to prove the charges against her. Awarding the capital punishment to the convict, Additional Sessions Judge Raj Kumar Chauhan said it was a pre-planned murder. “The mentality of the convict reflects that he can do anything for money, and if such criminals go scot-free it will create fear among witnesses and shake the faith of people in the criminal judicial system of the country,” the Judge observed.

“It stands established that the accused has committed murder in a gruesome, diabolic, premeditated and pre-planned manner just for the sake of money and by firing three times at the deceased from a close range, the accused has ensured that the deceased must die in all circumstances,” the court said.

Describing the facts and circumstances of the case as “uncommon and exceptional” which brought it in the category of “rarest of rare”, the judge said, “The irresistible conclusion of my considered thought is that the act of the accused is such which needs to be penalised with severest punishment in law.”

The Judge rejected the submission by counsel for the convict that the court should show leniency towards Mani Gopal as he was married and had a six-year-old child to take care of.

The convict would be executed subject to confirmation of the sentence by the Delhi High Court.

The trial judge ordered sending of the case file to the High Court to complete the necessary formalities.

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