Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Death commuted to life for 3 in Gandhi killing

18 February 2014, 12:31

New Delhi - India's Supreme Court on Tuesday commuted the death sentences to life in prison for three men convicted of playing minor roles in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The three have served more than 20 years on death row in Vellore Prison, in southern Tamil Nadu state.

They denied knowing anything about the plot to kill Gandhi as he was campaigning in May 1991 for a return to the prime ministerial office.

He was killed along with 17 others, including the female suicide assassin, as she greeted him with a garland of sandalwood beads and a bomb strapped to her chest during a rally in India's Tamil Nadu state.

The attack - orchestrated by Tamil Tiger rebels in neighbouring Sri Lanka - horrified the nation and virtually ended Indian support for the rebels' in their decades-long fight for an ethnic Tamil homeland. All of the assassination's masterminds were killed during or after the attack.

The three men on death row, however, were among 26 convicted of playing minor roles in the plot. While they have been reviled across much of India, many ethnic Tamils in the south believe they were duped into taking part in a plot they knew little about.

‘Mental suffering’

Indian national Arivu Perarivalan was found guilty of buying a 9-volt battery used in the bomb, while Sri Lankans Murugan and Santhan - who use only one name - acknowledged they were Tamil Tigers rebels but only pawns in a larger game they barely understood.

Their lawyers argued that executing the three now, after they had already served long prison terms, would amount to an unconstitutional double punishment.

"This is a landmark judgment," said the men's lawyer, Yug Chaudhry, applauding the court for rejecting the idea that the prisoners should show proof of "the scars of mental suffering" in awaiting their executions for decades.

Human rights activists and lawyers cheered the court's decision.

A "delay in disposing of mercy petitions of death row convicts amounts to degrading, inhumane treatment. It amounts to torture," rights lawyer Vrinda Grover said. "In this case also there has been substantial delay."

The Vellore Three, as they are now known, were the only convicts left on death row in the case, after 23 others were released or had their sentences commuted to life.

The last clemency granted was for Murugan's wife and the mother of his child, Nalini Sriharan, after Gandhi's widow, Sonia, met with her and asked in 1999 that no one be hanged.

Sonia Gandhi is now leader of the governing Congress Party and her son Rahul is seen as the party's prime ministerial candidate in parliamentary elections that must be held by May.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...