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NIA will have Sachin Waze in custody till April 3.

Sachin WazePTI
news Crime Friday, March 26, 2021 - 08:27

A special court in Mumbai on Thursday extended the National Investigation Agency’s custody of Assistant Police Inspector (API) Sachin Waze, the prime accused in the SUV case that pertains to the explosives-laden Scorpio with a threat note that was found abandoned near Antilia, the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, till April 3. Meanwhile, the suspended police officer told court on Thursday that he is being made a scapegoat and has nothing to do with the crime.

NIA secured his custody for another nine days, exactly a month after the SUV was found near Antilia on February 25.

Seeking extension of Waze's custody by 15 days, Additional Solicitor-General Anil Singh, representing the NIA, said the agency had seized 62 live bullets from Waze's home which are not yet accounted for since he was only issued 30 bullets by the police department, of which five have been accounted for.

He argued that when Waze had allegedly gone to plant the SUV near Antilia, he reportedly collected and destroyed some critical CCTV footages of several places, and used fake id cards to check into a five-star hotel.

The NIA has already seized around half-a-dozen high-end cars and gathered forensic evidence like burnt clothes and mobile phone, other samples and blood traces from the vehicles which have now been sent for DNA profiling and further forensic analysis.

Seeking Waze's extended custody, the NIA said that it wants to question him further and verify his statements by confronting him with the other accused who have been arrested in connection with the case.

In his submissions before the special court, Waze and his lawyer Abad Ponda dismissed the NIA's contentions and urged that its plea for extending custody should be rejected, as he was innocent and was being framed in the entire matter.

"I am being made a scapegoat in this whole incident. I have nothing to do with the crime," pleaded Waze, who was arrested on March 13, four days after the probe was handed over to the NIA on March 9 following a massive political furore.

He said that he had investigated the case for just one-and-a-half days, doing whatever was required as the IO, along with other Mumbai Police and Crime Branch officers, but something happened abruptly and when he went to the NIA office on March 13, he was arrested.

Advocate Ponda said that the NIA would also have to convince the court on invoking the stringent anti-terror provisions under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, on March 24, even as it was handed over the connected case pertaining to the death of Mansukh Hiran.

Thane-based businessman Hiran, who was in possession of the Scorpio, was found dead under mysterious circumstances on March 5. A former high-profile 'encounter specialist', Waze was suspended in 2004, joined the Shiv Sena briefly, and was reinstated to the police force in 2020.

On Thursday, NIA took the suspended police officer Sachin Waze to Reti Bunder creek in Thane where businessman Mansukh Hiran's body had been found. In the evening, some seven or eight officials took Waze to the spot where Hiran's body had been found on March 5, a local police official said.

On Wednesday, the NIA had taken the custody from the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) of suspended police officer Vinayak Shinde and cricket bookie Naresh Gaur in the Hiran case.

Waze was arrested by the NIA on March 13 in connection with the Scorpio with gelatin sticks and threat letter found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's house in south Mumbai on February 25.

Hiran had claimed that this Scorpio had been stolen from his possession a week earlier.

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