Over 100 examined in Jessica case

NEW DELHI, AUG. 14. The prosecution has finished recording of evidence in the Jessica Lal murder case in which the 30-year-old ramp model Jessica Lal was shot dead at socialite Bina Ramani's Tamarind Court restaurant in the Qutub Colonnade area at Mehrauli in South Delhi in the wee hours of April 30, 1999.

Of a total of 132 listed witnesses, the prosecution examined 102 in five years to prove its case that it was Siddharth Vashishtha alias Manu Sharma, the prime accused, who had allegedly shot dead the ramp model when the deceased refused to serve liquor to Sharma and his friends saying that the bar had closed for the day. The remaining witnesses were dropped.

However, one of the eye-witnesses in the case, model and film star Shyan Munshi, on whose complaint the FIR in the matter was lodged, refused to toe the line of the prosecution submitting that two shots -- one in the air and the other at Jessica -- were fired by two different persons and Manu Sharma was not one of them. Bina Ramani, her daughter, Malini Ramani, and the latter's father, George Mailhot, supported the case of the prosecution. Malini Ramani had identified Sharma present in the courtroom during her examination. The two separate forensic examination reports -- one by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) here and the other by the Rajasthan Forensic Laboratory, Jairpur -- on the two empty cartridges seized by the investigative officer from the spot also concurred with Munshi's evidence saying that "they appear to have been fired from two standard fire arms.''

The Deputy Director of the Rajasthan Forensic Laboratory, P.S. Manocha, told in his submission before the trial court that "he is of the confirmed opinion that both cartridges have been fired from two different weapons.''

During the examination of the investigating officer, Sub-Inspector Sunil Sharma, counsel for Manu Sharma accused him of taking guidance from the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) in the case as to how to go about in the matter. However, the Sub-Inspector had denied the allegation. Manu's counsel submitted that what he implied by this allegation was that the police had conducted the investigation in a biased manner to frame his client and to protect the real culprits in the case. A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court had also pulled up the investigating agency for leaving several loose ends of the case untied.

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