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Peter Mukerjea's remand extended: CBI says financial angle 'crucial'

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 24 November 2015, 10:31 IST

The extension

  • Former Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea was presented in court on Monday
  • The court extended his remand for three more days, instead of the 10 the CBI was asking for

The demand

  • CBI claims it has proof of Peter\'s involvement in Sheena Bora\'s murder
  • It wanted a longer remand to probe the financial dealings of Peter and wife Indrani, the prime accused

More in the story

  • The conversations that the CBI claims prove Peter was part of the conspiracy
  • Did Peter\'s son Rahul help \'nail\' his father in the case?

Former Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea could not secure bail when produced at the Esplanade Court in Mumbai on 23 November.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) produced Peter in court on Monday, when his three-day custody came to an end. And though the CBI asked for 10 days' further custody, the court only granted it till 26 November.

Also read - 'Mother' of all crimes: how Sheena Bora became both Indrani's sister & daughter

Peter was arrested in connection with murder of his step-sister-in-law/step-daughter Sheena Bora on Thursday. The CBI charged him with murder, destruction of evidence and common intention.

The arrest came as a dramatic twist in the high-profile murder case that had shocked the media and the corporate world of the country.

Probe into financial dealings

In its remand application presented before the court on Monday, the CBI said that it needed 10 days' custody to investigate the financial dealings and investments of Peter and wife Indrani, the prime murder accused, in India as well as in foreign countries.

The CBI stated that important incriminating documents pertaining to the case are yet to be recovered. Pointing out that Peter is a British national, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh said he had roots at various places such as Mumbai, Delhi, Guwahati, Shillong, Goa and also abroad. The continuation of custody was necessary to carry out detailed investigation at these places.

CBI wanted a further 10 days' custody, but the court only agreed to extend it till 26 November

In the process of investigating the financial dealings of the Mukerjeas, CBI officials also questioned a former employee, Kajal Sharma, who had booked the car used in the crime, and Mohammed Siddique, who currently handles Peter's accounts.

"There is a lot more to the matter than what meets the eye. Thorough investigations into the financial dealings of the couple can shed more light on the intricacies of the matter. This will be crucial in their conviction," said a senior CBI official.

In the course of the arguments, which lasted for more than an hour, ASG Singh told the court that investigators had collected concrete evidence against Peter, proving his involvement in the crime.

On the other hand, a defence lawyer tried to convince the court that Peter was innocent and had nothing to do with the murder. However, the arguments did not have the desired effect on the court.

Also read - Sheena Bora's murder: Indrani arrested but many pieces still missing

Rahul helped 'nail' Peter?

Peter's son, Rahul, who had been in a relationship with Sheena, had defended his father on Sunday, saying that the charges against him were baseless. But the CBI claimed the documents and call recordings Rahul handed over to the agency actually nailed Peter.

"The call recordings between Rahul and Peter [make] clear the latter's active involvement in the crime," Singh told the court.

Investigators had grilled Rahul for over 20 hours on 19 November, the day Peter was arrested. Then, on Sunday, they questioned him again for over four hours.

Sources said after Sheena went missing under mysterious circumstances in 2012, Rahul tried to trace her. He even approached the Worli and Khar police stations to lodge a missing person's complaint. But the efforts did not yield any results.

CBI claims documents and call recordings handed over by son Rahul actually nailed Peter

When he tried to confront Indrani and Peter about Sheena's disappearance, both gave evasive replies, which made him suspicious. CBI officials said it was this suspicion that prompted Rahul to record his conversations with Indrani and Peter.

Rahul, on Sunday, had claimed that his father was innocent, and that he would reveal the facts at a proper time. "Revealing details at this point of time would jeopardise the chances of my father being proven innocent. All the necessary information will be revealed at proper time," Rahul had told the media.

The recorded conversations

In giving details to the court, CBI officials talked about one particular conversation from April 2012, just a few days after Sheena went missing.

In this conversation, Peter can be clearly heard saying he has talked to Sheena and she is settled in the US.

"This is important evidence - that Peter was in the know of the fact that Sheena was murdered and still, he concealed the truth from his son, who was in a relationship with Sheena. This is not the only such conversation. There are many of them, which provide strong evidence against Peter," a CBI official said.

"For instance, in another conversation in August 2012, Peter told Rahul to vacate the flat he had rented with Sheena in Marol. He also told Rahul that Sheena will deal with the landlord to complete the formalities with the leave and licence agreement. It is clear from the conversation that Peter wanted to convince Rahul that Sheena was alive."

The official said these conversations would be presented in court as evidence against Peter, in order to prove that he was involved in the murder.

The CBI has claimed that both Peter and Indrani disapproved of the relationship between Rahul and Sheena. After initial arguments over the relationship, Rahul and Sheena shifted to a rented flat in Marol. However, in August 2012, Indrani, via email, instructed her 'son' and Sheena's brother Mikhail to get the leave and licence agreement terminated. She had told Mikhail that Sheena will mail him the same, and it should be sent to the landlord.

Rahul's statement has already been included in the chargesheet, which also names Indrani, her ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna and driver Shyamvar Rai.

READ MORE - The missing motive: why exactly did Sheena Bora have to die?

20 unanswered questions about the murder of Indrani Mukerjea's daughter Sheena

First published: 24 November 2015, 10:31 IST