Al-Umma objects to presence of 3 witnesses, blast case trial adjourned

Coimbatore Oct. 22. K. Uthirapathy, judge of the special court trying the Coimbatore serial bomb blast cases, today adjourned the trial to November 3 following a protest by Al-Umma men. They accused the prosecuting agency (SIT of the CB-CID) of deliberately bringing witnesses to the Central Prison for identifying and refreshing their memory.

When the proceedings were about to commence, the 135 undertrials led by Ansari, alleged that 3 witnesses ``were brought to the Central Prison by the prosecuting agency'' to ``expose'' them and enabling them to identify them (undertrials) in the court correctly. They contended that five years after the incident and even after completion of the identification parade, the SIT was trying to illegally and unofficially ``refresh'' the witnesses. The undertrials said following their objection, prison officials tried to apprehend the three witnesses, who had no reasons to be present there. But the three managed to flee, the undertrials alleged.

Contending that if such practices were allowed to continue, the trial could not take place in a fair manner and the undertrials through their counsel told the judge to end such practices, the defence counsel told newsmen.

The judge said the complaint would be looked into and posted the case for November 3. As many as 905 witnesses out of the 2395 had been examined and 160 witnesses dispensed with.

Mediapersons denied entry

When mediapersons tried to enter the special court premises, they were detained at the gate. The security personnel said: ``We are detaining the mediapersons only on instructions from the special court judge and SIT officials''. The defence counsel, N.S. Ziaudeen, K. Vellingiri and M.H. Abdur Rehman, told newsmen that they and the accused had represented that the media should be allowed to cover the proceedings. The counsel cited the permission given by previous presiding officers. ``Any court of criminal inquiry shall be open to public under provisions of Section 327 of CrPC, unless and otherwise the presiding officer thought it fit to make the court not accessible to the public or to any person, if the trial were to be held in-camera''. . ``The prosecuting agency was creating a situation to deny entry to mediapersons to cover up its mistakes'', the counsel alleged. The judge said he would get the directions of the Madras High Court in this connection, the counsel told newsmen.

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