Salem's prosecution under death penalty law to be withdrawn

New Delhi, Aug 5 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday allowed the CBI to withdraw the prosecution of mafia don Abu Salem under the provisions of criminal law that attract death penalty.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice J. Chelameswar also vacated the stay on the trial of the cases going on against Salem in several courts across the country.

While disposing of the petition by Abu Salem, the court ruled out his return to Portugal from where he was extradited to face trial for his alleged involvement in the 1996 Mumbai serial bomb blast cases.

The Portuguese courts, while permitting the extradition of Abu Salem, had said that he should not be awarded death sentence or imprisoned for more than 25 years.

The apex court verdict came on Salem's plea challenging his trial for offences which may attract a maximum punishment of death penalty.

In the course of the hearing, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sought the court's nod for withdrawing certain charges against Salem.

The court was told that the government was committed to abide by its assurance to the Portuguese court that Salem would not be awarded death sentence.

Salem in his petition had told the court that the top court of Portugal had terminated the authorisation for his extradition.

The Portuguese's court, while upholding the termination of the authorisation of Salem's deportation, held that the Indian government had gone back on its assurance.

The order granting the extradition of Salem was passed March 28, 2003 by Portugal's Ministry of Justice. This was challenged before the Lisbon-based Court of Appeals which partially confirmed the order of extradition July 14, 2004.

This was challenged before the Supreme Court of Justice of Portugal which Jan 27, 2005, allowed the extradition of Salem subject to conditions and guarantees for their enforcement by India.

The Supreme Court of Justice rejected the review petition March 3, 2005 and eventually Salem was brought to India Nov 11, 2005.

Salem is facing trial for his alleged involvement in 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts case in which 257 people were killed and 713 were injured.

The charge sheet was filed against 189 accused which included 44 absconders and Salem was one of them.

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