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Murder charges against mafia don Abu Salem dropped

National,Entertainment, Fri, 10 Oct 2008 IANS

Mumbai, Oct 10 (IANS) The prosecution Friday withdrew all charges against extradited mafia don Abu Salem in the case relating to the murder of Ajit Dewani, the former secretary of Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala.


Salem was charged under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), the Arms Act and Indian Penal Code.



The prosecution filed an application before the MCOCA court Friday withdrawing the charges and the court accepted this, Salem's lawyer Tejbahadur Thakur told IANS.



Subject to the prosecution's stance, Salem will now only face minor charges relating to wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation, cheating and forgery. However, he cannot walk out free as he is facing charges in other cases.



Bahadur added that only seven cases were approved for trial against Salem under the extradition agreement with the Portuguese authorities, and he cannot be tried in any new cases.



Salem and Bollywood starlet Monica Bedi were extradited from Portugal in 2005 to face several cases in India.



The state government last fortnight gave clearance to the police to drop all charges under the MCOCA and certain other provisions against Salem.



In a letter, the state home department advised the prosecution to drop the MCOCA and other charges against Salem since they contravened the terms and conditions of the extradition agreement.



Dewani, secretary to Bollywood stars like Manisha Koirala and Aftab Shivdasani, was shot dead in 2002, allegedly at Salem's behest after he failed to cough up extortion money.



The Bombay High Court later stayed the trial against Salem and seven other accused in the case following a dispute over clubbing his trial with that of the other co-accused.


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