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2010 Bengaluru stadium blasts: Three accused plead guilty

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Three of the 14 accused of terrifying bomb blasts that took place in Bengaluru’s Chinnaswamy Stadium in 2010 pleaded guilty today before a special court.

The blasts that left 15 people, including five security men, injured, occurred on April 17, 2010, during the Indian Premier League (IPL) match between Royal Challengers and Mumbai Indians, PTI reported. Gowhar Aziz Khomani, Kamaal Hasan and Mohammad Kafeel Akhtar — filed the affidavit in the court pleading guilty after it rejected their plea-bargaining, advocate D S Sudhanva, who is assisting the prosecution, told PTI.

The court, then, asked the defence lawyer whether he had explained to the three accused the consequences of pleading guilty, Sudhanva said. He said the defence lawyer had explained the consequences. Further, the special judge trying cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Siddalinga Prabhu called all the three accused separately to his chamber and asked whether they had taken the decision under duress.

“It is unprecedented that a judge calls the accused persons facing terror charges and inquires with them personally whether they were doing so (pleading guilty) freely — this is a special development of the day,” said Sudhanva. The case has been posted to July 9 for pronouncing the quantum of punishment. However, there would be another round of argument between the defence and prosecution, Sudhanva said.

The three accused hail from Bihar and had migrated to Delhi. They had conspired in Delhi as to how to plant the bombs in Bengaluru, but did not prepare or plant them. They had harboured the terrorists, conspired to plant the bombs and were part of the whole conspiracy.

Yasin Bhatkal, the prime accused in the case, is lodged in the Tihar jail, while accused number two Mohammad Qateel Siddiqui, an alleged Indian Mujahiddin operative, was lynched by inmates at the Yerwada jail in Pune for being part of anti-national activities.

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Bhatkal has not confessed to his crime, but those who were part of the conspiracy and harboured the other accused have pleaded guilty, Sudhanva said, adding that he was attending the hearing through video-conferencing from the prison. He said four other accused have decided to contest the case. In all, there are 14 accused. Seven are in jail and some of them are at large.

Two bombs exploded outside the heavily packed stadium and the third was defused. The blasts were carried out using low-intensity crude bombs triggered by timers. These were hidden behind a plastic board.