The witness said he was in jail from 2007, and there were 11 cases against him, in which he was acquitted. He said that it was a practice to keep terror accused in the cells. Ferreira said he was acquainted with 10 of the accused while he was in that jail and knew Mohammed Shafi, Sajid Ansari and Muzammil Shaikh well. He said Sajid was soft-spoken and always cooperated with jail authorities in solving problems. Ferreira described Shafi as an emotional person who comforted others who were awarded the death penalty, and would give them hope of being released. He stated that Muzammil used to pass time reading books and studying the chargesheet to prepare his defence in the case. Ferreira claimed the accused had earned the respect of fellow inmates as they helped them draft applications and in correspondence.
Referring to his stint in solitary confinement, Ferreira said it had affected him mentally and when released he found it difficult to adjust to social life. He alleged that he remembered seeing the accused bruised when they were brought to the Nagpur jail from Arthur Road jail. In his cross-examination by special public prosecutor Raja Thakare, Fereirra said he was not in touch with the accused or any of their relatives since his release. He further said Sajid’s brother Khaled had approached him to appear before the court on Monday.
Following the deposition, advocate for the defence, Yug Chaudhary, while opposing the death penalty told the court that the accused had committed the offence under duress and this was a mitigating factor. He said the prosecution had to show that the accused could not be reformed.
He said there was no evidence to show the death sentence acted as a greater deterrent than life imprisonment.
‘Neighbours welcomed me back but I’m not happy’
Mumbai: As the country awaits the final verdict, families of the 12 convicted in the 11/7 train blasts have grown used to waiting and watching. If last week was about anxiety and fear, Monday was better than usual. “All of us were allowed to spend an hour with them at the Arthur Road Jail,” smiled Parveen Banu (55), mother of Faisal and Muzammil, prime accused. Yasmeen, wife of Zameer Ahmed was wearing a bright pink chadder over her black veil. “I dressed up,” she gushed. “We spoke for a long time through the glass partitions today.”
The families would make rounds of Arthur Road Jail at dawn before arriving at the sessions court in Kalaghoda but the last few days have not been easy, given the uncertainty of the final sentencing and a denial to their usual meetings in jail. Content with this Monday morning rendezvous, the wives and parents left the court premises a little earlier than usual.
One person who has been a relentless figure inside the courtroom and outside is Abdul Wahid Deen Shaikh, the only accused who was acquitted after spending nine years in jail. Yet he finds it difficult to rest easy. “Today I sit with my family and eat my meals, my neighbours have welcomed me back but I’m not happy. Nine years spent with these guys, I have to be beside them and their families till they are freed,” says Abdul, who has access to the courtroom. Mohua Das