‘Scapegoated’: Vaze Tells NIA Court; Custody Extended till 3 Apr 

Vaze had, on his part, alleged before court that he was being made a “scapegoat”.

Updated
India
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Suspended Mumbai Police officer Sachin Vaze, as, on Thursday, 25 March, sent to further NIA custody till 3 April.
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The National Investigation Agency (NIA) custody of suspended Mumbai Police officer Sachin Vaze on Thursday, 25 March, was extended till 3 April.

Vaze’s NIA remand was slated to end on Thursday. The NIA had, however, sought his custody for “further investigation”.

Later on Thursday, the agency took Vaze to the spot where Mansukh Hiren's body was found in Retibandar, Thane, as part of an investigation into the latter’s death, reported ANI.

WHAT DID VAZE SAY IN HIS DEFENCE?

As per media reports, Vaze was produced before a special NIA court on Thursday in connection with the Mukesh Ambani bomb-scare case, where he alleged that he was being made a “scapegoat”.

Further, as per ANI, Vaze told the court that he was the investigating officer only for a day-and-a-half, and “did whatever I could in the capacity of an IO.”

He also reportedly said that it was not only he who probed the case, but also the Crime Branch and the Mumbai Police.

“However, there was suddenly a change in some plan somewhere. I went to the NIA office on my own and was arrested,” Vaze reportedly said.

He further reportedly informed the court that he has not admitted to anything.

Meanwhile, Senior Advocate Aabaad Ponda told the Court that UAPA could not be slapped against Vaze. He went on to explain this by making the following submissions:

  • Gelatine sticks found in the SUV were without a detonator which cannot cause destruction. Those sticks can be stored safely without protective gear. They do not fall under the purview of the UAPA.
  • The scope of a terrorist act under UAPA must be to hurt the unity, sovereignty, integrity and security of the country and must target a country, not a particular individual.
  • ‘Public person’, according to the act, cannot be a famous person in the society, but has to be a constitutional authority.
  • The alleged letter recovered with the gelatine sticks could at most amount to intimidation, but not to a terrorist act.

WHAT DID THE NIA SAY?

The NIA on their part, sought his custody for further investigation, citing the terror charges against Vaze under the UAPA, the death of Mansukh Hiren, and the alleged planting of explosives.

The NIA also reportedly alleged that 62 bullets, which were unaccounted for, were found in Vaze’s house.

According to NDTV, the NIA, also said: “Only 5 of the 30 bullets given for his service revolver have been found. The accused is not telling where the rest were.”

NIA also said that Vaze, who was arrested for alleged links with Hiren, had met the latter on 17 February. Hiren had handed over to Vaze the keys to the SUV that was later reported to be stolen.

Hiren’s SUV was the one parked near Ambani’s residence, in which the explosives were found. Hiren was found dead near a creek on 5 March, after having been reported missing for a few days. Vaze is suspected to be involved in his death.

MORE ALLEGATIONS

The NIA further said:

  • They have recovered number plates, a fake Aadhaar card with a false name but Vaze’s picture at Oberoi.
  • They have recovered five vehicles used by Vaze along with Rs 5.73 lakh, and a note counting machine.
  • Vaze paid the Oberoi Hotel Rs 12 lakh for a 100-day stay.

The NIA further told the court on Thursday: “We have taken blood samples of the accused for DNA. Samples of five seized vehicles have also been collected for DNA matching.”

Vaze’s voice samples as well as video clips, where he has been seen moving suspiciously, have reportedly been sent for forensic analysis.

The investigators told the court that they wanted Vaze to be faced with the men arrested in Hiren’s death case.

ASG Anil Singh, representing NIA said:

“The investigation is at a crucial stage, it is a very serious offence. One of the most heinous and shocking cases in the entire country. Shocking that a police officer is involved in planting explosives at a particular place in a case where he was the investigating officer.”

BACKGROUND

NIA had on Wednesday invoked the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against Sachin Vaze.

Vaze, who is the prime suspect in the case of explosives being planted outside Ambani’s residence on 25 February and the alleged murder of Mansukh Hiren – the owner of the explosives-laden SUV, was arrested on 13 March and was remanded to the custody of the NIA till 25 March.

The NIA on Wednesday also took custody of the two accused arrested in the case of Hiren’s alleged murder by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).

Meanwhile, the Thane court on Wednesday ordered the ATS to hand over Mansukh investigation to the NIA, after the latter informed a special court that the ATS was delaying handing over necessary files and details even three days after having been instructed to do so, NDTV reported.

(With inputs from ANI, LiveLaw and NDTV.)

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