Bhima-Koregaon case: Key evidence was planted?

Mumbai: In a significant development, Rona Wilson, one of the prime accused in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case, has claimed that the alleged incriminating evidence retrieved from his laptop was actually planted by hackers at least two years before his arrest in June 2018.

Incidentally, this was the key evidence against Wilson and others accused of plotting to kill PM Narendra Modi and to overthrow his government.

The human rights activist has accordingly approached the Bombay High Court seeking constitution of an SIT to probe the case.

To buttress his case, Wilson (42) has relied upon a US based digital forensic agency's report, which has concluded that the evidence on the basis of which the NIA arrested him and other dozen activists, was planted on his laptop.

According to Wilson, after seeing the support he and other co-accused have got in the case, he, through his legal team, had approached the American Bar Association (ABA) seeking examination of the evidence claimed by the prosecution. The ABA then handed over the clone copy of Wilson's hard disk to Chelsea-based Arsenal Consulting, a digital forensic company.

Accordingly, Arsenal was asked to examine 10 of the 52 identified items, which the prosecution has relied upon in its accusation of a plot to kill PM Modi.

"Though the report drawn by Arsenal aims at examining only ten specific documents, a perusal of their report will bear out that it has found out existence of malware which has made material changes in the content of the system without me (Wilson) even getting a hint of it," the plea reads.

The report, as per Wilson, shows with scientific details that an attacker deployed a malware named NetWire, with which he initially kept an eye on him, "and later on, remotely through the malware, delivered various files, including the incriminating correspondence. The same were stored in a folder which was set to hidden mode, and over period of 22 months, from time to time, various such letters and material came to be planted on his system without his knowledge," the plea reads.

By relying on the report, Wilson further states that the FSL concludes that he never opened the planted material on his laptop.

"Therefore, it is just and necessary, that this court does inquire into the fraud committed on me in order to frame me and the co-accused with the aim of keeping us behind bars for an indefinite period of time. The planting and framing amounts to false prosecution with malice in fact and in law, as is obvious from the selective prosecution of the accused, while neglecting to prosecute the real culprits of the violence," the petition states.

Wilson has further claimed that he is being targeted for his political views through fabricated and false evidence.

Accordingly, a prayer has been made to appoint an SIT to be headed either by a retired HC or SC judge along with professionals and experts on the panel to probe this aspect of the case. The matter would be heard in due course.

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