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Goa minister gets bail in extortion case


Panaji : Goa Tourism Minister Francisco alias Mickky Pacheco, booked two days ago for allegedly threatening and extorting money from a casino, was Saturday granted interim bail by a district court in Margao. The minister has alleged that Congress leaders are out to “nail” him.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator was booked by the crime branch Thursday for allegedly extorting Rs.3.6 lakh from the management of Treasures casino, housed in the Majorda beach resort, a five star facility in South Goa.

Speaking to reporters Saturday in Margao, 30 km from here, Pacheco said a Congress minister from the state cabinet was behind the complaint against him and alleged that the minister also complained to NCP chief Sharad Pawar that “he was extorting money from the casino operators in the state”.

“There is no issue of extortion. The crime branch has purposely booked the extortion case so that they can arrest me,” Pacheco said.

Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, speaking to reporters late Friday evening, said there was no political pressure behind filing of the FIR (first information report) against Pacheco and assured that he would not intervene in the matter.

“It is for each minister to decide on his actions. There is no interference. The investigations are free and fair,” Kamat said.

Additional district sessions judge Desmond D’Costa while granting the interim bail also directed that the next hearing be scheduled for Sep 23.

Pacheco has been named with 11 others for allegedly threatening the staff of Treasures casino in an FIR filed by the hotel staff. The alleged extortion occurred in June this year.

In his anticipatory bail application, Pacheco has alleged that “the bigwigs of the Congress had staged a counter move to intimidate him by influencing the Crime Branch to convert a simple complaint into extortion and threat for an odd figure of Rs.3.69 lakh”.

“I was falsely implicated under non-bailable sections,” the minister’s application states.

Pacheco’s NCP is part of a constantly bickering coalition government, which also includes the Congress, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, an unattached legislator from the United Goans Democratic party (UGDP) and an independent legislator.

Pacheco has also alleged that the complaint was intended to malign the image of the NCP in the run up to the assembly polls in Maharashtra.