Lalu records statement in CBI court in fifth fodder scam case

Ranchi, Jan 16 (PTI) Jailed RJD president Lalu Prasad appeared before a special CBI court here on Thursday and recorded his statement in connection with a case pertaining to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 139.35 crore from Doranda Treasury when he was the Bihar chief minister in the 1990s.

Prasad's advocate Prabhat Kumar said his client will produce witnesses and other pieces of evidence in the court on January 20.

This is the fifth and last fodder scam case against the RJD president in Ranchi.

There is a sixth case against him in Bhagalpur in his native state Bihar relateed to the multi-crore fodder scam.

Accompanied by close aide and senior RJD leader Bhola Yadav, Prasad entered the courtroom around 11 am and left around 2 pm.

The RJD supremo, who wore a blue half-sleeved sweater, shawl and woollen cap, appeared unperturbed when he returned after recording his statement.

An ailing 71-year-old Prasad, who is lodged in the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), was taken to the special CBI court, about four km away, under heavy security.

An ambulance followed the vehicle he was travelling to the court.

Though the court's corridor was packed, no media person was allowed inside the courtroom during the trial.

According to the CBI advocate, Prasad was asked 34 questions in the court and the former Bihar chief minister answered many of them in negative.

When he was asked whether he knew that the scam money would be utilised for hospitality and purchase of air tickets for political leaders and officials, Prasad said he did not know about it, adding 'Why should I take air ticket when I was the chief minister?.' He replied in the affirmative when the judge asked whether he heard what the witnesses had said in the court.

Agreeing that he was the chief minister and had the finance portfolio with him between 1990 and 1997 in the united Bihar, Prasad, however, denied when asked that he had assisted AHD officials and others in fraudulently withdrawing Rs 139.35 crore from Doranda Treasury.

He said said he had issued proper instructions when told why he had not initiated any action when the case was registered by the vigilance bureau.

Prasad also contended that he had given proper instruction when the then Deputy Accountant General had informed the state government about illegal transport of cattle in cars, scooters, tempos and jeeps.

To another query why he did not recommend a CBI probe when the then Bihar Animal Husbandry minister gave a detailed note on it, Prasad said his secretary told him that the then CBI director refused to take such case.

The RJD chief has been convicted in the previous four fodder scam cases and has been ordered prison sentences ranging between three and a half years and 14 years by different special CBI courts.

The Doranda Treasury case RC/47 has 575 witnesses and 111 accused, a CBI official said adding the investigating agency has filed charge sheets against 170 people.

Prasad has been in Ranchi jail since December 2017. PTI PVR SNS SNS