1997 Delhi blast: Fresh trial begins as convict says he didnít get fair trial

The retrial 1997 Delhi blast convict Mohammad Hussain, a Pakistani national, began on Thursday with the court of Additional Sessions Judge Pawan Jain examining three prosecution witnesses.

The witnesses were sub-inspectors Mahesh Kumar and Rameshwar Singh and head constable Jai Singh of the Delhi Police.

The Supreme Court had ordered a "de novo" trial of Hussain after he approached the apex court stating that his right to have a free and fair trial had been impeded because he had no legal counsel to represent him during the trial.

A number of witnesses in the case had reportedly not been cross-examined since the accused did not have a lawyer to defend himself.

The Additional Sessions Judge on Wednesday appointed advocate Rajesh Anand as amicus curiae and observed that since the Supreme Court had directed that the trial, which involves examination 83 witnesses, must be completed within three months, the hearings will be held on a day-to-day basis.

He also directed that the investigating officer in the case would have to be present in court every day, and stated that the trial will be conducted on a "zero tolerance" matter.

On Thursday, the investigating officer told the court that the police need to trace the whereabouts of some public witnesses because much time has elapsed since the conclusion of the trial. The court summoned six witnesses, who will be examined on Friday.

The blast on December 30, 1997, in a Blueline bus at Rampura near Punjabi Bagh in West Delhi, killed four persons and 24 others were wounded.

Hussain was convicted in the case, while three other accused were let off in November 2004.

The trial court had termed the case as "rarest of rare" and had awarded him the death sentence.

Hussain had challenged the order, but the conviction was upheld by the Delhi High Court.

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