Former Indian PM Gandhi's killers to hang: President

Indian Supreme Court in 1999 confirmed death sentences of 3 men, but commuted capital punishment to life in prison.


Afp August 11, 2011

NEW DEHLI: India's president has rejected mercy pleas from three men convicted of the 1991 assassination of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, paving the way for their execution, an official told AFP on Thursday.

"The rejection (of the clemency petitions) happened last week after the president returned from a foreign tour," presidential spokeswoman Archana Datta told AFP.

The appeal sent to President Pratibha Patil by the three – Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, all known by single names – were their last hope of escaping the hangman's noose.

The condemned men, who belonged to Sri Lanka's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militant group, are charged with plotting the May 21, 1991 killing of Gandhi by a female suicide bomber.

The Supreme Court in 1999 confirmed the death sentences of the three men, but commuted the capital punishment to life in prison for Nalini Sriharan, an Indian Tamil woman who was also convicted.

The three men sought a presidential pardon after the top court's verdict.

A woman with explosives strapped to her body blew herself up, killing Gandhi instantly while he was on an election tour in the southern Indian town of Sriperumbudur.

His shredded clothes and the shoes he was wearing at the time are on display in a museum in the Indian capital.

The LTTE, wiped out by Sri Lankan forces in 2009 following a bloody offensive by government troops on the island, always denied its hand in Gandhi's assassination.

But the militant group's now-slain leader Velupillai Prabhakaran went on to honour the assassin's father as a "great person who contributed to the Tamil cause."

Gandhi's killing was seen in India as retaliation for a 1987 Indian government pact with the Sri Lankan government to disarm the guerrillas, who had been trained and armed by New Delhi in the early 1980s.

After that pact, the LTTE fought Indian troops deployed to the island by Rajiv Gandhi's government to supervise the accord. India withdrew its troops after 32 months in which it lost at least 1,200 soldiers at the hands of the rebels.

Rajiv's mother, former premier Indira Gandhi, was also assassinated in October 1984. One of the surviving killers was hanged.

The last execution in India was in 2004 when a 41-year-old former security guard was hanged for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl.

In May this year, however, President Patil unexpectedly rejected a mercy petition from a murderer in the northeastern state of Assam, leaving the state scrabbling to find a hangman.

Many of the small number of known hangmen nationwide have either died or retired in recent years.

COMMENTS (19)

Tamilian | 10 years ago | Reply @sundar: Agree with you. My sympathy is towards Sri Lankan Tamils. Not for seperate Tamil country even in Sri Lanka. (Tamil country freedom from India is a decade dead issue and completely ruled out). I just tried to compare the support for Kashmiris by Pakistan and Srilankan Tamilians by India. Every one knows the answer. No necessary for Analysis.
sundar | 10 years ago | Reply

@Dr. Saleem Siddiqi:

Vow – you have put nail in the Coffin – keep it up brother. No body and suppress any nation by brute force. Victory will be yours one day – our Pakistanis prayers are fully with you.

How creepy you can be. First you thought it is some ting to do with sikhs Then probably you are the under the impression it is the Tamils of India. Aren't you? Tamilian is talking about the movement in Sri Lanka. The different ethnic groups in India are subscribed for a united strong India inspite of the linguistic and cultural difference which is unity in diversity. Economically Tamilnadu is among the front runners striving a better future for the whole nation. As far as Tamils of Sri Lanka is concerned I tend to agree with G Din. Having said that we have to agree that the atrocities committed on the Tamils are extra ordinary. But LTTE missed a good opportunity for a settlement when they were strongest. For the present state of the Tamils of Lanka Probaharan has to take a large percentage of the blame. His blunders including extermination of all the other Tamil players, killing of RG which eliminated Indian Tamils sympathy etc. And for the person who is calling himself doctor, save your prayers for the groups like Balochis, Sindhis etc.

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