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November 5, 2001
1927 IST

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I took Jessica to the party: Witness

T L Garg in New Delhi

An event management specialist told a Delhi court on Monday that she had picked up ramp model Jessica Lal from her house and escorted her to a party where she was shot dead.

"I picked up Jessica Lal from her house at around 10 pm and took her to the party," Shahana Mukherjee told additional sessions judge R L Chugh, who is conducting the trial in the case.

Lal was allegedly shot dead by Manu Sharma, son of a former Union minister, at the Tamarind Court on April 29, 1999, after she refused to serve him a drink, saying the bar was closed.

Lal was working as a celebrity barmaid.

"I had been attending these parties (in the past) and I attended the party on April 29 with Jessica," Mukherjee said.

"I remained in the party for about one-and-a-half hours. Jessica served liquor behind the bar during the party. One other boy named Shyan Munshi also served liquor similarly. Jessica was wearing blue denim shorts and a white shirt," she said.

"I left the party alone, leaving Jessica there," she said.

Cross-examined by R K Naseem, Mukherjee deposed that her husband Vikram Bhatia did not attend the party on that day.

"After learning about the incident, I remained with Jessica from Aashlok hospital (where she was initially taken) to Apollo hospital," she said.

She said that she had been contacted by the police only once, but could not remember the rank of the officer to whom she had made a statement.

"I did not tell the police in my statement that Shyan Munshi was also there and that he was also serving liquor to the guests," she said, denying a prosecution suggestion that she had made a false statement on Monday.

There are nine accused in the case. All of them except Sharma are out on bail.

There are over 100 prosecution witnesses in the case.

Indo-Asian News Service

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