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CBI backs Bilkis plea for trial outside Gujarat

July 23, 2004 23:02 IST

The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the gang-rape of a woman, Bilkis Yakub Rasool, during the Gujarat riots of 2002, today supported her plea before the Supreme Court seeking a transfer of the case to neighbouring Maharashtra, saying that would ensure a fair trial.

In an affidavit before the court, which will hear the case on Monday, the agency gave details of the threat to witnesses in the case and feared that they might come to harm if the trial is conducted in Gujarat.

"The chief investigating officer also received a threat from the accused persons when he visited the Sabarmati Jail," the affidavit said. "It is apprehended that the witnesses might be threatened and harm could be caused to them after filing of the chargesheet and during the trial."

The CBI has filed charges against 20 persons, including six police officers, in connection with the rape which took place near Panivela village when a mob attacked the family and relatives of Bilkis and raped her.

The CBI fears that witnesses may be prevented from appearing before the trial court at Dahod for deposition as 12 of the accused are residents of the same district. The accused police officers were also serving in the district at the time of the incident.

Elaborating the threat perception for witnesses who hail from Dahod district, the agency said it has no objection if the case is transferred out of the state to any competent court in Maharashtra in the interests of justice.

The CBI said that in the event the case is transferred from Ahmedabad, the Supreme Court may direct the Maharashtra government to provide the necessary logistical suport, including the services of official translators/interpreters.

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