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Mumbai, Sept 16: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today demanded death penalty for Yakub Memon, one of the four convicted members of Memon family, arguing that his involvement in the 1993 serial bomb blasts in the megapolis qualified as a '' rarest of the rare case'' in which 257 people were killed and over 700 wounded.

Arguing on behalf of the prosecuting agency on the quantum of punishment for Yakub, who besides three other family members, was convicted by the TADA court of Mr Pramod Kode on September 12, CBI counsel C S Sharma said Yakub has been found guilty under various provisions of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and various other Acts of law.

In view of the gravity of the offences committed by him, the prosecution counsel said Yakub, brother of absconding prime accused Tiger Memon, deserved the death penalty as the serial blasts case qualifies to be a 'rarest of the rare' case, he said.

Sharma, who spoke after the defence completed its arguments, will resume his arguments on quantum of sentence of the remaining three convicts, Yusuf and Essa, both brothers of Yakub, and Rubeena, sister-in-law of Tiger Memon.

Earlier, defence counsel Harshad Ponda pleaded for imprisonment of Yakub and freedom to the remaining three convicts of the Memon family members, saying the time already spent by them should be set off against their sentence and they should be released. Opposing death sentence sought by the CBI counsel, Ponda argued that since Yakub was not the main conspirator and the Supreme Court, in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, had made a distinction regarding the depth of one's involvement in a crime conspiracy. Therefore, Yakub should be sentenced only a jail term and 12 years already spent by him in prison should be set off against the jail sentence to be awarded to him by the trial court.

The defence said the prosecution has not been able to provide concrete evidence that he funded co-accused or borne their expenses for air journey to Pakistan to get training in arms. Ponda further argued the prosecution had also failed to provide evidence that Yakub forced other accused to commit the offence.

The defence also claimed that Yakub had no prior information that the tickets purchased for the co-accused were meant to fly to Pakistan to get arms training nor did he make the payment, adding the payment was made from the account of Tiger Memon and not Yakub Memon's.

Ponda said the court should take a lenient view as Yakub is an educated person and father of a minor daughter. Yakub is a Chartered Accountant and his only child was born after his arrest in July, 1994.

Regarding Rubeena, whose husband Suleman is among three other members of the Memon family discharged from the case for want of sufficient evidence, the defence said when the blast conspiracy was hatched in 1992 she was in Dubai and not in India. Ponda said she had no knowledge that her Maruti van had been used by co-accused for transporting explosives nor the prosecution has produced any evidence that she was in touch with co-accused.

He said since Rubeena has already spent 32 months in jail and is mother of two children, her time in jail should be set off against sentence and she should be set free.

Rubeena has been found guilty only on one account, that is the use of her van for transport of RDX and co-accused. She was given benefit of doubt for want of sufficient evidence that she funded the execution of conspiracy.

Pleading for Yusuf, the defence counsel said he was just 21 years in 1993 and totally dependent on his family and had nothing to do with the conspiracy. Mr Ponda said Yusuf was released on bail in 1998 on the ground he was suffering from chronic schizophrenia. He pleaded that five years spent by him in jail should be set off against sentence and he be released.

Regarding Essa, the defence said after spending 12 years in jail he was recently released on medical ground as he had developed a tumour in his brain besides suffering from multiple diseases, including morbid obesity. Ponda said Essa was a college student in 1993 and had no knowledge of the conpiracy. The time already spent by him in jail should be set off against sentence and he be released, the defence pleaded. 


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