Waze `prime accused' in Hiran case, will seek his custody: ATS

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(Eds: adding details) Mumbai, Mar 23 (PTI) Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Tuesday said suspended police officer Sachin Waze was a 'prime accused' in the Mansukh Hiran murder case and it will approach the special NIA court here to get his custody.

More arrests were likely in the case, said ATS chief Jaijeet Singh.

Waze, arrested in connection with the recovery of explosives-laden SUV near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence in south Mumbai, is currently in the custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The NIA custody will expire on March 25.

The ATS had last week arrested suspended policeman Vinayak Shinde and cricket bookie Naresh Gaur in the Hiran murder case.

'After the arrest of both these men, ATS found Waze is a prime accused in the case and played a vital role,' the ATS chief told reporters.

'We need his custody and will approach the court on March 25,' Singh added.

Waze's statement was recorded in the Hiran case on March 8 when he flatly denied any role in the crime, but probe revealed that he was lying, the ATS chief said.

It was Waze who had contacted Shinde when the latter walked out of jail on parole and took his help, he said.

Gaur procured 14 SIM cards and some of them were activated and used in the crime, the ATS chief said.

According to ATS, Shinde contacted Hiran, posing as `Tawde saab from Mumbai crime branch' on the evening of March 4, the day before Hiran's body was found in a Thane creek.

'Preliminary investigation suggests that Shinde along with others was involved. A Volvo car seized from Daman is suspected to have been used in the crime,' the ATS chief said.

Forensic Science Laboratory at Kalina in Mumbai examined the car on Tuesday, he added.

The ATS has also obtained CCTV footage from various spots even though the accused destroyed some CCTV footage in a bid to destroy evidence of their movement, officials said.

Shinde, convicted in the Lakhan Bhaiyya fake encounter case, was released on parole last May and since then he was in touch with Waze and helped him in his 'illegal activities', the ATS had said earlier.

'Many more people were involved in the crime,' said the ATS chief.

On Monday, the ATS seized a Volvo car with Maharashtra registration from the Union Territory of Daman in connection with the case.

The probe agency had also claimed to have detained a person from Ahmedabad who had allegedly provided SIM cards to the accused.

The SUV with explosives found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's house on February 25 had been allegedly stolen from Hiran's possession. On March 5, Hiran, who ran auto spare parts business in Thane, was found dead in a creek.

Hiran's wife had alleged that Waze had played a role in his death. PTI ZA VT KRK KRK