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October 16, 2001
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Jessica case: Witness denies making doctored statement

T L Garg in New Delhi

Prosecution witness Bina Ramani on Monday denied a defence suggestion that she had made a doctored statement in the trial relating to the murder of ramp model Jessica Lal.

"It is incorrect to suggest that I have deposed falsely in the court under the influence of the police," Ramani said in response to cross-examination by RK Naseem counsel for Manu Sharma, the prime accused in the case.

On Friday, Ramani had identified Sharma as the person whom she had tried to stop after the shooting incident in which ramp model Jessica Lal was killed.

When additional sessions judge R L Chugh, who is conducting the trial in the case, asked Ramani to physically identify Sharma by touching him, she did so.

Lal is alleged to have been shot by Sharma, son of a former minister, on April 29, 1999, after she refused to serve him a drink at Tamarind Court, an illegal bar run by Ramani. Lal was working as a celebrity barmaid.

Cross-examined by counsel for accused Vikas Yadav, Ramani maintained "She did not receive any notice from the police or from any court to take part in the test identification proceedings of accused Vikas Yadav, Amardeep Singh Gill and Alok Khanna. I have seen the photographs of these three accused persons in the press and the media."

"I never had any opportunity to point out to the police that Vikas Yadav, Amardeep Singh Gill and Alok Khanna were present in the restaurant when the shots were heard," Ramani said.

On Friday, Ramani had been asked: "Can you identify any other person who was with that person whom you had touched (Sharma)?"

"I think Amardeep, Alok Khanna and Vikas Yadav were those persons," she had said.

She denied the suggestion that she had falsely identified the three accused persons at the instance of the police.

At the end of her cross-examination, Ramani told Chugh that she wanted to say more about the case. Chugh said that the stage for that was over and that she would have to move an application if she wanted to say anything more.

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

Five of the ten prosecution witnesses examined in the case so far have turned hostile.

Malini Ramani, however, has told the court that Sharma had indeed asked for two drinks from Lal, who refused to serve them as the bar was closed.

Another prosecution witness has told the court that he had issued arms licence to Sharma.

Gurnam Singh, who works in the arms licensing department of the Chandigarh administration, testified that arms licence no 191 had been issued to Sharma.

"After the preparation of the licence, it was given to Siddharth Vasisht (as Manu Sharma is also known). The licence bears the photograph of Siddharth Vasisht," Singh said.

On Thursday, Surinder Singh, an arms dealer of Ambala in Punjab, 175 km from here, said that he had sold a Baretta pistol to Sharma on January 31, 1999.

Naveen Chopra, who owns an arms shop at Karnal, 90 km from here, has told the court that he sold 25 rounds of .22 bore ammunition to Sharma on February 4, 1999.

There are over 100 prosecution witnesses in the case.

Indo-Asian News Service

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