Agence France Presse

New Delhi, January 29:

Indian police said Portugal’s supreme court has cleared the extradition of one of India’s most wanted men, Abu Salem, sought for a string of blasts that killed over 250 people in 1993, Indian media reported today.

“We were informed by the Indian mission in Portugal that the court has granted India’s request for extradition of Abu Salem for all the offences,” G Mohanty, a spokesman of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation, was quoted by the Press Trust of India (PTI) as saying.

There was no immediate comment available from Portuguese officials. Salem and his girlfriend, Indian actress Monica Bedi, were arrested in Lisbon in September 2002 on charges of document falsification. India has sought their extradition since they were arrested. Bedi is wanted in India for forgery. Salem is believed to have helped orchestrate a wave of bombings in Mumbai’s commercial district in March 1993 that killed over 250 people and hurt as many as 1,000.

Authorities in India believe the bombings were in retaliation for the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in riots that took place months earlier following the demolition of the Ayodhya mosque by Hindu nationalists in December 1992. As well as being wanted for the bombings, Salem is also sought in India in connection with as many as 60 cases of murder, extortion and kidnapping. Salem, the subject of an international arrest warrant, has denied any involvement in the blasts or other wrongdoing.

Mumbai police commissioner AN Roy welcomed the order for extradition of Salem, the PTI said. He said the extradition process was a formality that would be completed soon.

Roy said the police would arrest Salem for his alleged involvement in the blasts and other crimes when he arrived in India.