Best Bakery witness says she was forced to lie in the court

Mumbai: As the appeals filed by the nine convicts in the 2002 Best Bakery case are pending before the Bombay High Court, a key prosecution witness, Shaikh Yasmeen Banu, has claimed that she was "lured and misguided" by social activist Teesta Setalvad into giving a false testimony.

"Teesta Setalvad made me give false testimony in the Best Bakery case by luring and misguiding me. I had written everything in the affidavit submitted to the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court in June last year," Yasmeen said in a statement issued earlier this week.

Reacting to the allegation, Setalvad said, "The trial is long over. The guilty have been brought to book. I do not know why this statement has been made now. Her (Yasmeen) statement is manipulative."

Yasmeen was the only prosecution witness from the Shaikh family who stood by the police`s case against the 17 accused.

Rest of the family, including prime witness and Yasmeen`s sister-in-law Zaheera Shaikh, had turned hostile, alleging that they were forced by Setalvad to lie.

In her affidavit dated June 17, 2010, Yasmeen has stated that her deposition before the trial court was made at the behest of Setalvad.

According to Yasmeen, one Rais Khan, who is a close associate of Setalvad, had met her along with local Muslim leaders claiming that her life was in danger in Gujarat and she should shift to Mumbai where she would be taken care of.