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It was all over in 40 minutes for the Memons
Syed Firdaus Ashraf | July 27, 2007 15:24 IST
Tense moments awaited the Memon brothers at Mumbai's TADA court on Friday, when the family members were all sentenced for their involvement in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. And when the proceedings actually began, it was all over in less than 40 minutes.
The three brothers -- Yaqub, Essa and Yusuf -- were sitting in one row and behind them was actor Sanjay Dutt [Images]. Rubaina, their sister-in-law, although convicted for her role in the blasts, was out on bail and was a little late in arriving at the court.
Judge P D Kode asked the defence counsel, Farhana Shah, "Where is Rubaina?" and she replied, "Rubaina has arrived in the court premises and will be in anytime."
The proceedings began as soon as she was walked in, draped in a brown burqa covering her head. She made straight for where brothers-in-law were, and sat next to them.
Rubaina's husband Suleiman had been acquitted in September 2006.
At 11.40 am, Judge Kode began his sentencing, starting off with Rubaina. Finding her guilty of conspiracy under TADA and financing terrorist activity through her bank account, the judge said, "She also allowed her car, a Maruti [Get Quote] van, gave her flat and garage to be used for carrying terrorist activities."
Judge Kode added that since she was a woman and the defence counsel has requested some consideration, the request was being acceped.
He paused at this point and said, "She is sentenced to life and a fine of Rs 1 lakh."
Rubeena quietly walked away from her seat without showing any reaction, and Yaqub Memon followed her to have a word.
Next was the turn of Yusuf Memon who too was charged with conspiracy and the prosecution had sought the death penalty for him. While in jail Yusuf had turned schizophrenic.
Keeping this in mind Judge Kode said, "He is seriously sick and the benefit is extended to him from death punishment to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 lakh."
Soon to be followed was the Memon brother, Essa, who too faced similar charges of conspiracy. Esa too had fallen sick while in jail, suffering from a brain tumour and skin ailment.
"I take his sickness under consideration and give him life sentence with a fine of Rs 1 lakh," added Judge Kode.
Now it was the turn of the last brother, Yaqub's turn. Judge Kode said he was charged with conspiracy, and arranging finances and disbursing them for terrorist activities.
Yaqub, who looked aged, sported a white beard and wore a white half-sleeve shirt. He maintained his calm while listening to the judge's pronouncement.
"He also arranged air tickets for the terrorists to travel to Pakistan and there have been confessions of other accused in the case," added the judge. "He is sentenced to death and a fine of Rs 1 lakh."
Yaqub Memon then sprang up from his seat and quoted Jesus Christ's words, "Oh my lord, forgive this man for he does not know what he is doing." He then walked out of the courtroom and hugged his brother Essa.
When policemen tried to intervene he shouted loudly, "Chhodo, humko is court mein nahi rehna hai (let go of me, I don't want to stay in this court)."
When reporters tried to have a word him the police frisked him away and Yaqub shouted out, "I have forgiven him, I have forgiven him," referring to the judge.
The three brothers and Rubaina were then taken to separate cells away from the court, even as Rubeena was weeping profusely and each of the brothers tried to console each other.
Judge Kode then called upon actor Sanjay Dutt and his three accomplices, who are awaiting sentences, and said he will give his ruling on July 31.