CHENNAI: Judges in Chennai on Tuesday delayed by two months the execution of three men convicted of the 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The three men were due to be hanged on September 9 at a jail in the southern state of Tamil Nadu after India's president rejected their final mercy pleas earlier this month.
But the Chennai high court said it had "stayed the execution of the capital punishment by eight weeks" after a further round of appeals from lawyers and state politicians who oppose the executions.
The hangings would be the first in India since 2004, when a former security guard was hanged for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl.
Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan – all known by one name – belonged to the now-defeated Tamil Tigers militant group of Sri Lanka, which was accused of plotting the murder of Gandhi by a female suicide bomber two decades ago.
Gandhi rose to become India's youngest-ever prime minister after his mother, former premier Indira Gandhi – who was herself assassinated in October 1984 – and he ruled until losing the 1989 election.
The shredded clothes and the shoes Gandhi was wearing when he was killed while on an election tour in southern India 20 years ago remain on display in a museum in the national capital New Delhi.
The separatist Tamil Tigers, who were wiped out in 2009 in a bloody offensive by Sri Lankan government troops, always denied involvement in Gandhi's assassination.
But his killing was widely seen as retaliation for Gandhi sending Indian troops to Sri Lanka in 1987 when he was prime minister, in a failed attempt to disarm the guerrillas.