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7/11: Accused say they have no faith in court
Syed Firdaus Ashraf | December 18, 2007 20:15 IST
He looks like an up-and-coming film-star and not that of an alleged jihadi. He also wears a cap like singer-turned-actor Himesh Reshammiya [Images], but is a bit on the hefty side.He is dressed in branded clothes, with long hair and sideburns cut stylishly.
But looks can be deceptive -- Faisal Attaur Rehman Shaikh is the main accused in the 7/11 serial blasts that killed 187 people on July 11, 2006.
As the trial began in Mumbai's session court after 15 months, all the 13 accused -- who were present in the court -- said they had not faith in the judiciary and did not expect justice.
While some were dressed neatly and were clean-shaven, some sported long beards and Islamic caps.
On Tuesday, Judge Mrudula Bhatkar called on the first witness in the case, police sub-inspector of Borivli railway police Nagesh Baburao Dhone to depose.
All the 13 accused have refused to have lawyers represent them saying they were boycotting the trial because they claim they were framed and had nothing to do with the 7/11 blasts.
In fact, some of them told Judge Bhatkar that she should not begin the trial because they had appealed against the trial in the Mumbai High Court.
All the accused then held up a sheet of paper which read: "No faith in the court of Mrudula Bhatkar."
As the accused did not hire any lawyer, the court appointed lawyer Rizwan Merchant as amicus curie (friend of the court) on behalf of the accused.
Dr Tanveer Ahmed, another accused, said, "We are not getting a fair trial. My pictures have been splashed all over the media. It is a trial by the media and the Anti-Terrorist Squad has framed wrong charges against us."
He then referred to Hindustan Times, which carried an article about Tuesday's trial in which it was mentioned that the 7/11 accused took revenge for the 2002 riots in Gujarat.
Judge Bhatkar intervened, "This is not a trial by the media. If you are innocent, you will be out. You have to believe that this court is not run by the media.
She said sternly, "This is not a platform where you can give your speeches. This is a court room."
Faisal then got up and said, "I said ATS is guilty (for wrongly detaining us)."
Kamal Ansari, another accused from Madhubani in Bihar, said, "I have never met my family ever since they arrested me. I have five children and an old mother. They don't even allow me to speak to them over the phone.''
He said, "We are poor people and there is no way that my family can afford to come to Mumbai and meet me.''
Pointing at an ATS officer in the court, Ansari claimed, "He shows my child's picture on his cellphone in jail. He tells me I have to think about his future. He is blackmailing me to confess all the time and torturing me."
Inspector Dhone, in his testimony said: "I saw 18 dead bodies at Borivli station and around 50 injured people."
The ATS submitted in court that they would produce 2,036 witnesses to nail the accused.
Asked why the 7/11 accused had discontinued his services, lawyer Shahid Azmi who represented Faisal Shaikh, said, "All the accused have lost faith in the judiciary. They feel that they will not get a fair trial so they have given up and discontinued my service."
Judge Bhatkar then advised lawyer Rizwan Merchant to 'make them understand the court procedure".
Rizwan said, "I will speak to them because they will jettison their constitutional rights by acting in such a manner."
The hearing continues on Thursday.