Pradeep Jain murder case: Court fixes February 25 for Abu Salem's sentencing

A special court will pronounce on Wednesday the quantum of punishment to extradited gangster Abu Salem who has been convicted in the 1995 murder of city-based builder Pradeep Jain. Special TADA Court Judge G A Sanap had convicted Salem, his driver Mehandi Hassan and another builder Virendra Jhamb last week.

In his concluding argument before the court today, Salem's counsel Sudeep Pasbola said his client should not be granted any punishment other than mentioned in the extradition treaty. "The court has to fulfil the sovereign guarantee," Pasbola said.

The Indian government had given an undertaking to Portugal that Salem will neither be given the capital punishment nor a sentence exceeding 25 years. The defence lawyer also contended that the court should count Salem's set-off period from the date India moved Portugal seeking his extradition.

The extradition process started in 2002 and Salem was extradited three years later. Meanwhile, the probation officer today submitted his report to the court on the pardon plea of Jhamb who was convicted only under the charge of extortion. Jhamb's lawyer Shrikant Shivde moved an application seeking pardon in view of his age and failing health.

Jain was shot dead by assailants outside his Juhu bungalow in March 1995. According to the police, he had refused to give up a huge property to Salem. This is the first case in which Salem was convicted in India after he was deported in 2005.

The prosecution has sought life imprisonment for Salem after climbing down from its earlier demand of death sentence for the gangster. "In view of the provision of the Extradition Act, the accused (Salem) may be sent to imprisonment for life," special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had said in the special court.

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