V.S. Palaniappan

`It will be unsafe to decide against the undertrials'

Coimbatore: The defence counsel in the Coimbatore serial blasts cases on Wednesday dubbed the prosecution eyewitnesses in the R.S. Puram blast as stock witnesses with vested interest.

The defence counsel P. Thirumalairajan, Bhavani B Mohan and Mohammed Abubacker submitted their arguments before the Judge of the Special Court for Bomb Blast cases, K. Uthirapathy.

More than 50-persons were killed and over 250 were injured in the serial blasts of February 14, 1998. T. Balasundaram and T.A. Selvaraj appeared for the prosecution.

Submitting the arguments, Bhavani B. Mohan, said that one of the eyewitnesses let in by the prosecution had claimed that he was present at two places at the same time.

Citing prosecution records, the defence pointed out that one of the witnesses had been cited as an

eyewitness in two incidents of blast on Sir Shanmugam Road as well as on West Sambandam Road. "The blasts occurred in quick succession within a few minutes. It would have been humanly impossible for the witness to be present at both these places at the same time especially when one blast spot was at least more than half-a-km. from the other".

"The witness who saw the undertrial parking the bomb planted two-wheeler on February 14 and after having witnessed the blast had remained quite for four days and had only deposed before the police only on February 18. Such a conduct was not only unnatural but also contradicted from a normal human reaction", he said.

Hence, he suggested that the witness should have been a stock witness of the police let in by the prosecution to toe its lines of investigation. The other eyewitness was again not only a stock witness but also an interested witness known for having deposed against the members of the minority community. When the charge sheet was filed in September 1998, the prosecution only on May 5, 1999 introduced the witnesses in to the case records. The defence suggested that the prosecution had taken adequate time to fabricate witnesses and records to suit its pre-determined lines of investigation and to fix the already decided accused.

The defence also alleged that there were contradictions in respect of the recoveries made during and after the arrest of the undertrials involved in these incidents of blast.

With the witnesses being interested and stock witnesses failing to let in any reasonable belief, they pleaded that it would be unsafe to decide against the undertrials based on these witnesses and material objects allegedly recovered by the police.