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7/11: convicts continue to examine witnesses

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The convicts in the Mumbai serial train blasts case today continued to examine witnesses before the trial court to establish that they were reformed and hence should get only the minimum punishment.

Four defence witnesses had been examined yesterday and as many took the stand today. Another witness is likely to be examined on September 21, defence lawyers told the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court.

The court convicted 12 accused on September 11 for complicity in carrying out the blasts in Mumbai local trains on July 11, 2006, killing 188 persons. One accused was acquitted for lack of evidence.

Judge Y D Shinde today pulled up a defence lawyer for asking irrelevant questions. “My patience is over. You have to ask questions about the mitigating circumstances, (other unwanted) questions are adding to the number of pages (of the record) and are not relevant,” said the judge.

A colleague of the convict Dr Tanvir Ahmed Ansari, a teacher of Ehtesham Siddiqui, and brothers of convicts Soheil Mehmood Shaikh and Mohammed Sajid Ansari today deposed.

Dr Kedar Toraskar told the court that he had worked with Dr Tanvir at Saboo Siddiqui hospital. Ansari was a sincere and hard-working man and “there were no complaints against him and his behaviour with other doctors were cordial and professional”, Dr Toraskar said.

Ankush Dhangle, former teacher of Ehtesham, said he cannot comment on latter’s conduct in the prison. “Ehesham is in a high-security cell and therefore I cannot say if he has encouraged other prisoners to acquire education,” he said.

Brother of convict Soheil, Ahmer Mehmood Sheikh, said the former’s children could not get proper education after his arrest as other children mocked them saying they were children of a “terrorist.”

Convict Sajid’s brother, Khalid Ansari, said his brother used to arrange funerals of dead persons who had no relatives. He also helped girls from poor families by collecting money for their marriages. “My brother also helped an undertrial to file a petition in the High Court and that man was ultimately discharged,” Khalid said.

On Monday, the defence lawyers are likely to argue on the quantum of sentence.