Mumbai

Mahim murder: discrepancy in accused’s age opens up a can of worms for police

The female accused was sent to a juvenile detention home on Monday following the discovery of her actual age.

The female accused was sent to a juvenile detention home on Monday following the discovery of her actual age.  

Crime Branch discovers female accused’s birth certificate which states she is 16

The sudden discovery of one more accused in the Mahim murder case turning out to be a minor has opened a can of worms for the Crime Branch, with repercussions being felt during the custody hearing of the third accused arrested in the case.

While the first two accused are alleged to have killed Santacruz resident Bennett Rebello and hacked his body to pieces in his own house, the third, Ali Chaus (19) allegedly helped the duo disposed of the pieces. On Sunday, however, the Crime Branch Unit V discovered a birth certificate according to which the female accused, who was believed to be 19, was actually 16 years old.

Mr Chaus, who was arrested late on Friday night, was produced in the Esplanade Court on Monday for further custody, where the issue of the mix up over the age of the accused was brought up.

His lawyer argued in court saying that his arrest was the result of the female accused's interrogation, and as she is a minor, any evidence obtained from her in police custody becomes extra judicial. The lawyer further argued that there were no grounds for further custody.

The Crime Branch, however, argued that there was no doubt about Mr Chaus' age, as they had verified it based on documents.

“We further told the court that pictures of Rebello's dead body had been found in Mr Chaus' cell phone and needed to verify why he had taken those pictures. His custody is also crucial for an event reconstruction, with regard to the disposal of the body parts. He was physically present when the body was being backed and stuffed into suitcases, making his a crucial part of the crime.” a Crime Branch officer said.

The court instructed the Crime Branch to double check Mr Chaus' age and remanded him in custody till December 20.

Meanwhile, the female accused was sent to a juvenile detention home following the discovery of her actual age.

Crime Branch officers expressed concerns about the development impacting the case at trial stage, as the two main accused in the case might get off on lighter sentences due to the benefit of age, despite the crime being a heinous one.

“We are in consultation with our legal officers in this regard,” a senior Crime Branch officer said.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 11:47:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/mahim-murder-discrepancy-in-accuseds-age-opens-up-a-can-of-worms-for-police/article30324704.ece

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