Mumbai: In a setback for CBI, three more prosecution witnesses have turned hostile in the 2006 Pawanraje Nimbalkar murder case, in which Member of Parliament Padamsinh Patil is the main accused.

A total of 12 witnesses have turned hostile so far at the ongoing trial before Alibag sessions court in neighbouring Raigad district.

The three witnesses who turned hostile last week included two eyewitnesses who had seen the assailants open fire at Nimbalkar's car at Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai, killing the Congress leader and his driver.

The murder took place on June 3, 2006. According to the prosecution, three assailants travelling in an Indica overtook Nimbalkar's car and forced him to halt.

Then they opened fire. But the two eyewitnesses, who were on the crime spot, told the sessions court last week that they had not seen any Indica that day.

The third witness who turned hostile was the person who had allegedly obtained SIM card for Mohan Shukla, an accused. The SIM card was used to make calls to other accused and hatch the conspiracy and execute the murder.

Earlier this month, Nimbalkar's widow, Anandibai, had approached the Bombay High Court seeking that trial be transferred from Alibag to a court in Mumbai, alleging that Padamsinh was influencing and threatening the witnesses.

Anandibai had filed the application in the petition filed by CBI in the High Court, seeking cancellation of bail to Padamsinh.

Justifying demand for bail cancellation, CBI had also filed an affidavit in the High Court alleging that Padamsinh was using his influence to put pressure on the witnesses.

"The witnesses have gone back on their earlier statements to the CBI because of the pressure tactics adopted by the respondent (Patil), who is a sitting MP from Osmanabad constituency and is highly influential," CBI said.