Salem `confession' submitted to court

Special Correspondent

MUMBAI: The CBI on Monday submitted a sealed package which is supposed to contain the confession of extradited gangster Abu Salem to the designated Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act court, according to one of Salem's lawyers, Ashok Sarogi. The TADA court is likely to open the package and read out the confession on Tuesday, he said.

Mr. Sarogi said he was not privy to the contents of the confession and would only get it when the charge sheet was filed against his client. His suspicion was that the CBI may have used ``unwanted influence'' to get a statement from Salem. Last week, reports that he had confessed were later denied by the CBI. The designated TADA judge disallowed lawyers to be present during interrogation in an order last week. He had applied for a defence lawyer to be within audible distance during his interrogation.

No confirmation

However, there was no confirmation from the CBI regarding the confession. The gangster is in CBI custody till November 23 and is being interrogated amid tight security. CBI counsel C. S. Sharma said he had no knowledge regarding the confession.

Salem and Monica Bedi were extradited on November 11, and he is one of the main accused in the Bombay blasts case on March 12, 1993, which killed nearly 300 people. He will be tried for supplying arms and ammunition and explosives under the TADA apart from the conspiracy charge under the Indian Penal Code. He is also wanted in several other cases of forgery, extortion and murder.

The TADA court also adjourned till December 3, the application filed by Salem, objecting to news about him being reported in the media. On November 16, the court had issued notices to the Union Information and Broadcasting Secretary and Maharashtra. They were asked to file their replies on Monday. Lawyers for Salem said the replies were not yet filed and so the case was adjourned. The application was filed after reports about the CBI investigation concerning him appeared in the media, some of them involving his personal life. The application demanded a ban on such unconfirmed reports.