A T E S T N E W S
Mirza Baig sentenced to death in German Bakery blast case
PUNE: A Pune court on Thursday sentenced German Bakery blast convict Mirza Hinayat Inayat Baig to death for his role in the terror attack which left 17
persons dead in February 2010.
Three days ago, Pune sessions court Special Judge N.P. Dhote had held Baig guilty in the case in which he was the lone accused arrested.
A resident of Beed district, Baig was nabbed from Udgir town in neighbouring Latur district by the Maharashtra
Anti-Terrorism Squad in September 2010, nearly seven months after the terror attack.
After his arrest, the ATS charged Baig with hatching a conspiracy along with his six associates for the terror blast at German Bakery, situated in the
up-market Koregaon Park area of Pune.
On the day of his conviction April 15, Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakre said Baig was charged under Indian Penal Code Sections 302, 307 (murder and attempt to murder), 435, 474 (mischief by fire and explosive and forgery) and 120(b) (criminal conspiracy), besides other charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Explosives Act.
The court upheld the prosecution contention that the blast was “a carefully planned and executed attack” calculated to terrorise the general public, causing extensive damage to life and property.
The prosecution said the primary objective of the terror attack was to undermine and reduce faith of the common people in the elected government and destabilise the system of law.
The special judge upheld the prosecution argument that the terror attack caused deaths of foreign nationals, earning the country a bad name. Five foreigners were among the 17 victims of the Feb 13, 2010 blast. — IANS
Musharraf flees from court premises after arrest order
ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf was on Thursday ordered to be arrested immediately by a court here over the sacking of 60 judges during emergency rule in 2007, but amid high drama he fled from the premises despite thick security blanket.
Musharraf, 69, who appeared in the Islamabad high court on Thursday morning to seek extension of his interim bail, was whisked away by his bodyguards, all commandos, before the police could take him into custody following the court order.
Rejecting his plea seeking extension of bail, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ordered police to arrest him immediately.
Even as police tried to reach the former president, his bodyguards rushed him out of the courtroom to his black SUV. Musharraf's motorcade then drove out of the court complex before police could act.
A large contingent of police and paramilitary personnel deployed at the complex to provide security to Musharraf also did not act as the former dictator's security team of army commandos escorted him out of the courtroom.
Musharraf's convoy drove from the court to his farmhouse at Chak Shahzad on the outskirts of Islamabad, television channels reported.
As the former military ruler's arrest appeared imminent, Mohammad Amjad, a senior leader of his All Pakistan Muslim League party, said a team of legal experts was examining the court's order.
Amjad said Musharraf will act according to the law and if the legal experts deemed it necessary, he would surrender to the authorities.
Soon after Musharraf returned to his farmhouse, a contingent of Pakistan Rangers personnel deployed to protect him left the residence. Some analysts contended this was a sign that the security establishment would not back Musharraf.
Sources told PTI that the government was considering a proposal to declare Musharraf's farmhouse a "sub-jail" so that he could be detained at his residence. Authorities believe it would be better to hold Musharraf at his farmhouse in view of serious threats to his life, the sources said.
Musharraf could also approach the Supreme Court to seek pre-arrest bail, sources said.
Last week, Musharraf was granted interim bail for six days after he surrendered to the Islamabad high court in connection with the case over the detention of judges in 2007. The same court had earlier declared him a "proclaimed offender" or fugitive in the case.
During today's hearing, deputy attorney general Tariq Mehmood Jahangir told the court that Musharraf had been granted interim bail on the condition that he would cooperate with police officials investigating the case.
Justice Siddiqui remarked that Musharraf had been accused of destroying the judicial system and he was bound to cooperate in the investigation. The judge was then told by the investigating officer that Musharraf had not come to the police station or cooperated with the probe.
The investigating officer further said Musharraf had sent a message that he would say whatever he had to say in court.
The case against Musharraf is based on an FIR filed in August 2009 by a lawyer named Chaudhry Mohammad Aslam Ghumman.
Ghumman had asked police to initiate proceedings against Musharraf for detaining over 60 judges, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, after imposing emergency on November 3, 2007.
Since Musharraf returned to Pakistan last month after nearly four years in self-exile, he has been in and out of court several times to get his bail extended over the 2007 killing of former premier Benazir Bhutto, the death of a Baloch leader Akbar Bugti in a 2006 military operation and for imposing emergency rule in 2007.
The Taliban have also threatened to target him. Earlier this week, Musharraf was disqualified from contesting next month's general election, effectively ending his ambitions for a political comeback. — PTI
After Sanjay Dutt, 7 more convicts get a month to surrender
NEW DELHI: A day after actor Sanjay Dutt was granted four weeks time to surrender, seven other convicts including 70-year-old Zaibunnisa Anwar Kazi, were also given the same amount of time by the Supreme Court to turn themselves in to serve their remaining sentence in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.
Granting relief to Abdul Razak Memon, Altaf Ali Sayed, Yusuf Mohsin Nulwalla, Zaibunnisa, Issaq Mohd Hajwane, Shariff Abdul Gafoor Parker alias Dadabhai and Kesri Adajania, a bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan said no further time will be given to anyone to surrender on any ground.
The court granted the relief today, the day the deadline fixed by it for them to surrender was set to expire.
The bench, however, refused to grant relief to another convict Yusuf Khan, who had sought extension of time to surrender till his review petition is decided by the Supreme Court, saying that relief cannot be granted on this ground.
The apex court had on March 21 upheld the sentence of five years imprisonment of Yusuf Khan. The court had also upheld the jail term of life imprisonment, 10 years and five years respectively of Memon, Sayed and Nulwalla.
Apart from them, the court had also upheld the TADA court’s verdict awarding five-years and life term to Zaibunnisa (70), who is suffering from cancer, and Parker (86), respectively.
The apex court had enhanced the five-year jail term of Hajwane (76) to life imprisonment and had awarded one—year jail term to Adajania (84).
The apex court had on April 16 refused to grant extension of the deadline to surrender to Zaibunnisa, Hajwane and Parker, who had pleaded they be allowed to remain out of jail till their clemency pleas were decided by the President.
A day thereafter, Dutt, 53, was granted four weeks to surrender after he urged the court to extend the deadline on humanitarian grounds.
Other convicts, including Zaibunnisa then filed a petition seeking relief on health and humanitarian grounds which was accepted by the apex court and they were also granted four weeks to surrender.
After Thursday’s order, all eight convicts, including Dutt will have to surrender before the trial court in Mumbai by May 16.
The Mumbai serial blasts on March 12, 1993 had claimed 257 lives and injured over 700. — PTI
Many feared dead in Texas
fertiliser plant explosion in US
WEST, TEXAS: A Texas fertiliser factory exploded in a huge fireball on Wednesday, flattening nearby homes and perhaps killing as many as several dozen people, with one official likening the blast to a "nuclear bomb."
Fears were mounting in the small town of West, outside Waco, that a second fertilizer tank could erupt in flames, stoking anxiety in a nation already on edge after the nerve-jangling Boston marathon bombings, which left three dead.
An apartment complex and a nursing home were destroyed, local residents flooded into emergency shelters, and at least 100 patients were hospitalized following the blast, which US seismologists said had a magnitude of 2.1.
"It's like a nuclear bomb went off," West mayor Tommy Muska, who is also a volunteer firefighter, told CNN.
There were conflicting reports about the death toll in the chaotic aftermath of the explosion in the southern US state, which witnesses said sent a huge fireball into the air.
A toll of up to 60-70 dead was initially reported by KWTX television, citing the director of West emergency services, George Smith.
Keith Hopkins, an administrator with Providence hospital in Waco, told AFP that emergency personnel in West had also given him the figure of 60 to 70 fatalities.
A spokesman for the Texas department of public safety, DL Wilson, told reporters he could not "confirm or deny" the figure, saying: "We have confirmed fatalities. The number is not current yet. It could go up by the minute."
House-by-house searches were being conducted to find any additional victims, Wilson said.
The United States was already on edge in the wake of Monday's deadly twin bombings in Boston, and a scare in Washington over mail apparently laced with the poison ricin sent to President Barack Obama and a US senator.
The huge blast also came just before the 20th anniversary on Friday of a deadly confrontation in Waco between federal authorities and heavily armed members of a religious group, the Branch Davidians.
The explosion at the West Fertilizer plant, sparked by an enormous blaze, occurred just before 8pm (0100 GMT), Waco assistant fire chief Don Yeager told AFP by phone.
The cause was not immediately known but Yeager said it was an anhydrous ammonia explosion. Officials expressed fears that toxic fumes could settle over the town.
Power and gas has been cut to some areas of the town as a precaution, Waco police sergeant W Patrick Swanton told CNN.
Mark Felton, executive director of the Waco-based Heart of Texas Red Cross, told AFP that people were "flowing into the shelters" set up for evacuees and those whose homes were destroyed, without providing a specific figure.
"There are hundreds of emergency response vehicles lined up," Felton said.
Witnesses said they were stunned by the sheer force of the blast.
"It knocked me down, it knocked me back. It was like the whole road just picked up," resident Cheryl Marich, whose home was destroyed and whose husband was fighting the blaze, told CNN.
Jessica Turner, a geophysicist at the US Geological Survey, told AFP experts "were able to see the ground motion that the explosion created," putting the magnitude of the shockwave at 2.1.
There were growing fears that a second fertiliser tank at the plant could explode, widening the disaster that Muska said had leveled up to 80 homes in the small Texas town of 2,500 people.
The mayor told CNN that six or seven firefighters who had attempted to tackle the blaze were unaccounted for.
"It exploded just like the Oklahoma City bomb," Jason Shelton, a clerk at the Best Western Czech Inn in West, told The Dallas Morning News, referring to the 1995 bombing that killed 168 people.
"I live about a thousand feet from it and it blew my screen door off and my back windows. There's houses leveled that were right next to it. We've got people injured and possibly dead."
Another witness, Bill Bohannan, told the Waco Tribune-Herald: "It knocked us into the car... Every house within about four blocks is blown apart."
In the 1993 Waco siege, following a 51-day standoff, the group's compound burned down after an assault was launched.
Dozens of people were killed in an incident that many far-right groups see as a symbol of egregious US government overreach. — AFP