M A I N   N E W S

Abu Salem, Monica extradited — finally
S Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

Monica Bedi: File photo
Monica Bedi: File photo

Major cases against Salem

  • Involvement in Mumbai serial blasts in 1993 that claimed 257 lives and injured 1,400.

  • Cricket
    match-fixing scandal in which some of India’s top players, including former captain Mohammed Azharuddin, were also allegedly involved.
  • Involvement in the murder of music baron and T-Series owner Gulshan Kumar in 1997.
  • Masterminding an attack on Bollywood producer Rajiv Rai at his office in 1997.
  • Involvement in the murder of actress Manisha Koirala’s secretary Ajit Dewan in 2001. He also allegedly threatened Manisha.
  • Salem’s men also attacked producer Xavier Marquis.
  • Salem’s lieutenants had attacked film producers Rakesh Roshan and Manmohan Shetty.
  • Wanted for the alleged murder of Mumbai-based builders Om Prakash Kukreja and Pradeep Jain.
  • Alleged to be the brains behind a fake passport racket.
  • His gang members also attacked television personalities who were Muslims and worked for producer B. R. Chopra’s epic serial “Mahabharata”.

New Delhi, November 11
In the first major success in an extradition case, one of India’s most wanted fugitive, Abu Salem Qayyum Ansari, was extradited to India today along with his girlfriend Monica Bedi, ending a prolonged three-year extradition battle with Portugal.

A prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts that killed 257 persons and fixing cricket matches, Abu Salem is wanted in over 70 cases, including extortions, kidnappings and contract killings.

The two fugitives were brought to Mumbai from Portugal by a special 20-member CBI team led by Deputy Inspector-General O. P. Chhatwal.

The CBI has been incessantly pursuing the case of Abu Salem and Monica Bedi since their detention in Portugal on September 18, 2002 and ultimately succeeded in getting them extradited after an ‘Executive Assurance’ to Portugal that he would not be given death penalty, an important requirement in extradition proceedings in Europe.

“Salem and Bedi were handed over to the 20-member strong CBI team headed by a DIG on the intervening night of November 10 and 11, who later brought them here in a special plane,” a jubilant CBI Director U. S. Misra told newspersons here.

Both the accused are in CBI custody and Abu Salem would be produced before a designated court in Mumbai trying the 1993 Mumbai serial blast cases, he said.

Monica Bedi faces trial in connection with two cases of forgery of passport in Bhopal and Hyderabad. She is accused of having travelled on forged documents to stay with Salem in Lisbon in the past few years.

The CBI Director said Abu Salem had been extradited to India in eight cases which include the serial blasts, two cases of forgery of passports from Lucknow, three cases of extortion from Delhi and two murder cases in Mumbai including the murder of Ajit Dewan, Secretary of Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala.

Abu Salem, resident of Sarai Mir, Azamgarh district in Uttar Pradesh, is also known to be a close associate of Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar.

Interpol, Lisbon, had informed the CBI about the arrest of Salem, against whom a red corner notice was pending, and his girlfriend on September 20, 2002 and asked the CBI to confirm that the fugitives were wanted in India and route the extradition request through diplomatic channel.

The CBI immediately swung into action and after a prolonged hearing, the High Court of Lisbon granted his extradition in July, 2004, but only for offences not punishable with death or life imprisonment.

The CBI filed an appeal against the order and finally the Supreme Court of Portugal accepted the appeal filed by India and granted extradition of Salem in all crimes included in the original extradition request.

At the time of his detention, Abu Salem was found in possession of fake travel documents. He was holding a Pakistani passport in the name of Arsalan Mohsin Ali.

However, his fingerprints available with the CBI fixed his identity. He was prosecuted for the offence of using forged documents and convicted by the Sessions Court in Lisbon and sentenced to four and a half years of imprisonment in November 2003.

Monica Bedi, who was also detained along with Salem in September 2002, was holding an Indian passport in the assumed name of Sana Malik Kamal.

Request for her extradition was submitted to Portugal in December, 2002. Initially in July 2003, the High Court of Portugal rejected the request for her extradition on the ground that she would stand trial in India for the same offence in which she was being tried in Portugal.

An appeal was filed against this order at the behest of the CBI in the Supreme Court, which remanded the case back to the High Court for reconsideration. In July, 2004, the High Court of Lisbon finally granted extradition.

Monica Bedi filed appeal in the Supreme Court of Portugal against the order of the High Court of Lisbon dated July 30, 2004, which was rejected in December 2004.

Subsequently, she filed an appeal in the Constitutional Court of Portugal which was also rejected in January, 2005.

Her further appeal before the Group of Judges of the Constitutional Court in February, 2005 was also dismissed.

The CBI Director said all legal procedures and principles of natural justice and human rights would be observed by investigating and holding trial of the accused as per law.

Mr Misra was full of praise for his colleagues, who pursued the case vigorously and also thanked Interpol, Lisbon, the Government of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Ministries of Home Affairs and External Affairs and Indian Ambassador at Lisbon for their valuable cooperation.

Mr O. P. Chhatwal, who is at present the DIG, along with the then Additional Director Vijay Shankar and legal counsel S. K. Sharma, played a crucial role in ensuring the extradition of the duo.With Abu Salem’s deportation, CBI and police officials in various states say that he will be questioned in an entire gamut of cases.


Salem in CBI custody till Nov 23

Mumbai, November 11
Underworld don Abu Salem, who was brought here early this morning after being deported from Portugal, was remanded to CBI custody till November 23 by designated TADA Judge P D Kode this evening.

The CBI officials, who produced Salem in the designated court amidst heavy security, sought 30 days remand to interrogate him. However, the court said it was not permissible and granted CBI remand till November 23.

CBI counsel C S Sharma told the court that Abu Salem was shown arrested this morning. The court came down heavily on CBI when its counsel said under the extradition proceedings, it had been submitted that Salem would be tried in an India court for all the offences, but would not be granted death or imprisonment beyond 25 years. The court then asked the CBI counsel “Is this a conditional appearance,” to which he said it was not so and added that the accused was produced in pursuant to the warrants issued by this court.

The CBI prayed for Salem’s remand for 30 days, on the ground that it needed to verify as to how many persons the accused had supplied arms and ammunition to.

The counsel further told the court that Salem had destroyed his passport after the serial blasts and had left the country on a fake passport, issued in Lucknow. The court asked Salem if he was aware that he had been declared a proclaimed offender by this court, to which he replied in the negative.

Attired in a blue jeans and a cream-coloured shirt, a clean-shaven Abu Salem told the court that he had not received any notice or warrant from the CBI declaring him a proclaimed offender. Meanwhile, the court allowed advocate D S Siddiqui to appear on behalf of the accused today. — UNI

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