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Alleged hawala dealer Mohammad Aslam Wani will vanish if he was granted bail in a decade-old money laundering case which also involves Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah, the Enforcement Directorate told a Delhi court today. The central probe agency opposed the bail application of the accused before Additional Sessions Judge Sidharth Sharma, saying he was accused of serious economic offences which may disturb the financial situation of the country. The court has reserved its order on 36-year old Wani's plea for Monday. During the proceedings on Friday, special public prosecutor N K Matta said, "Our only link to unearth the entire terror conspiracy are Shah and Wani. He will vanish if granted bail and will never be caught." He maintained that "the offence is grave and it is to be ensured that fair trial is conducted. ... These are very serious economic offences and may disturb the financial condition of the country," he said. Wani's advocate, M S Khan, opposed the ED's contention saying it was "unreasonable" "They (ED investigators) have been investigating the case for a decade and still they are seeking more time.
During this entire period, the accused was always available," he said. The advocate said a 2010 trial court judgement clearing Wani of terror funding charges in 2005 case, based on which the current money laundering case was lodged in 2007, was confirmed by the Delhi High Court on October 31. "The effect of confirmation of acquittal of the applicant (Wani) is that there is no material left to connect him with the co-accused (Shah) as it was not proved that money was recovered or was meant to be used for any illegal purpose (hawala)," the plea moved by advocate Khan said. The ED had in September filed a charge sheet against Wani and Shah, whose bail application in the case was also dismissed on August 22. Wani was arrested by the ED from Srinagar on August 6 with the help of the state police and is currently in judicial custody. Shabir Shah was arrested by the agency from Srinagar on July 26. The ED action against the two was in pursuance of an August 2005 case in which the Delhi Police's Special Cell had arrested Wani, who is alleged to have claimed he had passed on Rs 2.25 crore to Shah. In 2010, a Delhi court had cleared Wani of terror funding charges but convicted him under the Arms Act. The ED had registered a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against Shah and Wani. On August 26, 2005, Wani was apprehended, with the ED claiming to have recovered Rs 63 lakh from him. It was also alleged that the funds were received through hawala channels from the Middle East, along with a large cache of ammunition.