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A special Tada court on Wednesday sentenced gangster Abu Salem to life imprisonment for the murder of builder Pradip Jain in 1995.

His former driver Mehendi Hasan was also sentenced to life imprisonment.

The sentencing comes more that a week after the duo were convicted in the 1995 murder of city builder Pradeep Jain. Builder V K Jhamb (86) will not be taken into custody as his jail term has been set off against the time already spent in prison. Wheelchair-bound Jhamb, who has been out on bail, was present in court.

The sentencing comes after both the prosecution and defence presented extensive arguments over the last week. While initially Nikam sought the death sentence against both Salem and Hasan, he later conceded that the penalty could not be sought against the extradited gangster in light of the treaty signed between India and Portugal. Alternatively he asked the court to award a sentence of life imprisonment until the end of Salem’s natural life.

However, defence advocate Sudeep Pasbola argued that the treaty stipulates that he can be given only a total of 25 years’ imprisonment under all nine cases in which he was charged.

With respect to Hasan, Pasbola iterated that the driver, who helped the sharpshooters with arms, was only a fringe player. He argued that on basis of parity, he could not be given the death sentence as the sharpshooters convicted earlier were only awarded life imprisonment.

Salem is likely to move the apex court as appeals against convictions under Tada cannot be filed in the high court. Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had earlier said, “This judgment will give a strong jolt to the Dawood Ibrahim gang because it has now been judicially proved that Abu Salem, along with Anees Ibrahim (Kaskar), had hatched a criminal conspiracy to commit terrorist acts in India.”

For the convictions, the court had relied on the retracted confessions of Salem and Hasan and said it was corroborative evidence to the proof provided by accused-turned-approver Naeem Khan. The had judge said, “The evidence adduced by the prosecution is concrete, cogent and reliable.” He said it was proved that the conspiracy was hatched in Dubai in October/November 1994 by Salem, Khan, Hasan, and wanted accused Anees Kaskar and Shaukat Mistry.

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