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Rajiv's Assassins To Be Hanged, Prez Rejects Clemency Pleas

PTI 11 Aug 2011, 22:44:06 IST

New Delhi, Aug 11: Three killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on death row will be hanged after their clemency petitions were rejected by President Pratibha Patil.

The death sentences of the three men—Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan—were confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2000. The capital punishment of the fourth convict Nalini was however commuted to life by the Apex Court.

A Rasthrapati Bhavan spokesperson said today the clemency petitions of all the three condemned prisoners were turned down by the President last week. It is not yet known when the executions will be carried out.

The three men and Nalini belonged to Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) and were convicted of assassination of Gandhi in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on May 21, 1991. The three men, charged with criminal conspiracy and execution of the suicide attack plot, had filed mercy petition before the President after confirmation of sentence by the apex court.

The Home Ministry had sent its opinion on June 21, 2005 which was called back for review on February 23, 2011 and was re-submitted to the President on March 8 this year.

Earlier, in May, the President had rejected mercy petitions of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar of Punjab and Mahendra Nath Das of Assam following the recommendations from the Union Home Ministry.

Bhullar was sentenced to death by a trial court on August 25, 2001, for plotting terror attacks on Punjab SSP Sumedh Singh Saini in 1991 and the then Youth Congress president M S Bitta in 1993. Das was found guilty of murdering one Hara Kanta Das.

Following is the chronology of events involving three members of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealem (LTTE) charged with criminal conspiracy for assassinating former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur:

January 28, 1998: A trial court in Chennai awards death sentence to four LTTE cadres—Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan and Nalini—for assassinating Rajiv Gandhi.

May 11, 1999: The apex court confirms the death sentences of the three convicts and commutes to life imprisonment the punishment given to Nalini.

The trio file clemency petitions to the President of India. The President's Secretariat directs the Home Ministry to give its opinion to decide on the case.

June 21, 2005: The Ministry of Home Affairs sends its opinion to the President.

February 23, 2011: The opinion is called back for review by the MHA.

March 8, 2011: The reviewed opinion is submitted to the President's Secretariat.

August 2011: President Pratibha Patil turns down the mercy petitions of the three convicts. PTI