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Convicts were mere foot soldiers, says defence

The lawyer of Lashkar-e-Taiba operative Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal and 11 others, who were convicted in the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case, on Friday pleaded for minimum sentence, saying they were only foot soldiers and not ringleaders of the conspiracy.

Yug Mohit Chaudhary, who argued for all the convicts before the special MCOCA court here, drew parallels with the verdict in 1993 Mumbai blasts case. Actor Sanjay Dutt, who was not held to be part of the conspiracy (but convicted for illegal possession of a weapon) had been given bail in that case as against the main accused, he pointed out.

In the present case, the 12 convicts were only transporters of arms and ammunition seized by ATS and not the suppliers or the end users. Therefore they should be given lesser punishment than what the owners, conspirators or users of the contraband would get, he said.

“The court should award maximum punishment to those who financed and arranged these arms and explosives,” he said. The MCOCA court convicted Jundal and others yesterday and is now hearing arguments on quantum of sentence.

Chaudhary also said the court should consider whether there was any chance of the convicts repeating the offence, and whether they may be rehabilitated, on the other hand.

Most of them had already spent eight years in jail and some of them, who did not get bail, had spent 10 years, which was enough punishment, the lawyer argued.

They were not a menace for the society and their behaviour during the trial showed they could be reformed, he said. The convicts were only the “arrows” and not the “archers”, he said.

Also, they did not open fire on policemen when the ATS chased them, he pointed out.

Chaudhary also said that in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, the Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of 12 convicts who had planted the bombs to life imprisonment, considering that they were mere foot soldiers and not the main conspirators. Two masterminds of the conspiracy in the present case were absconding, he said. 

The prosecution will argue on Saturday. On May 8, 2006, a Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad team chased two cars on Chandwad-Manmad highway near Aurangabad and seized 30kg of RDX, 10 AK-47 assault rifles and 3,200 bullets with the arrest of three persons.
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