New Delhi: A Delhi court on Wednesday deferred
framing of charges against 20 accused, including two
policemen, for allegedly trafficking over 170 illegal Indian
emigrants who later drowned in the Mediterranean Sea near
Malta 13 years ago.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Amit Bansal
adjourned the matter to October 24 as Karnail Singh, one of
the accused, did not appear and sought exemption from personal
appearance on the ground of illness.
According the legal procedure, the physical presence
of an accused is necessary for framing of charges as they will
have to either accept or reject the charges.
This is the second that the charges could not be
framed. Earlier the court on August 1 could not frame the
charges as some of the accused were absent.
It earlier found "prima facie sufficient" evidence
against the accused to proceed with the trial.
Twenty accused, including Delhi Police officers Jag
Parvesh Chand and B S Meena, have been charged under section
420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security) and 120B
(criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
The victims, belonging to Punjab, died in the icy
waters off the Malta coast on December 25, 1996, after they
were transferred from a ship to a boat in the Mediterranean.
CBI had registered a case against 27 persons in 1997.
Seven accused died during the pendency of the case.