Mumbai: The lawyer of the extradited gangster Abu Salem on Wednesday told the trial court here that the murder of builder Pradeep Jain in 1995 was only "incidental to the conspiracy" to extort.
"Murder was only incidental to the conspiracy and it was not immediately planned and executed. He was killed only after Jain started dilly-dallying about the payment of extortion money," Salem's lawyer advocate Sudeep Passbola argued.
The special TADA court is now hearing the arguments on the quantum of sentence after convicting Salem, his driver Mehendi Hassan and builder Virendra Jhamb in the case.
The prosecution has demanded death sentence for Salem.
The object of the conspiracy was to acquire some property. "Exchange of hot words (between Salem and Jain) led to murder. It cannot be said that murder was brutal," Passbola argued.
There was nothing to show that the execution was carried out in a diabolical way to terrorise the society at large, he said.
He also pointed out that India, at all stages of Salem's extradition in 2005, had given assurance to Portugal government that the extradition treaty would not be violated and as per the treaty, Salem cannot be awarded death sentence or imprisonment exceeding 25 years.
Hassan was neither main conspirator nor a principal participant in the crime, the lawyer said, adding that he had nothing to gain from the crime.
Jhamb's lawyer, advocate Shrikant Shivde, sought pardon for his 86-year-old client. Even a day's imprisonment could be a capital punishment for him as nobody can say whether he would come out alive, Shivde argued.
Shivde also moved an application under the Probation of Offenders Act, saying that Jhamb's offence does not attract capital punishment or life imprisonment.
The court asked the special prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam to file reply by Friday.