Rizwan Ahmed and Mohsin Sayyed, accused of radicalising youths from Malwani in Malad to join the Islamic State (ISIS), orally pleaded guilty before the special NIA Court on Thursday.
The special NIA judge A T Wankhede directed them to file a written application in that regard in the next hearing.
According to defence lawyers Wahab Khan and Sharif Shaikh, the accused pleaded guilty on their own despite the advice of the counsels. With the court’s permission, the lawyers withdrew their vakalatnama as they did not support the accused’s voluntary guilty plea.
The legal cell Jamiat Ulama E Maharashtra, which was providing legal aid to the accused, has withdrawn the same with immediate effect. As on date, 39 prosecution witnesses have been examined in the case.
Ahmed and Sayyed are facing trial for instigating youths, Ayaz Sultan, Mohsin, Abdul Bashir and Noor Mohammad from Malwani, to join the Islamic State in 2015. The investigating agencies said Ahmed was the second-in-command of the ISIS wing in India.
According to the prosecution, there are more than 220 witnesses in the case.
Earlier, rejecting prosecution’s claims, Ahmed had claimed he was a child in 2013 when the alleged radicalisation of accused Aryaz Mohamed had started. The prosecution had alleged that Sayyed, along with Noor Mohammad, a carpenter and Wajid Shaikh, son of a vegetable seller, had gone missing in December 2015 and the three had decided to join ISIS.
The Bombay High Court on September 30 had reserved its judgment in Rizwan Ahmed’s bail plea, which it will pronounce in due course.