26 convicted for murder get double life terms (Lead, superseding earlier story)

August 5th, 2008 - 12:11 am ICT by IANS  

Karur (Tamil Nadu), Aug 4 (IANS) A court here Monday awarded double life terms to 26 people convicted of killing two youths over a temple-land dispute in the nearby Madurai district of Tamil Nadu in July 1992. Judge R. Ayyappan pronounced all the 26, accused of killing N. Ammavasai and P. Velu, as guilty and ruled they should undergo a life term for each murder.

The convicts were taken to Tiruchirappalli central prison under heavy police escort.

Prosecutor Bhavani Mohan argued that the deceased were returning with several others after peace talks over a temple-land dispute and were waylaid and killed by the accused, who belonged to different caste.

The incident took place in Melur in Madurai district, 350 km south of state capital Chennai.

During the trial in Madurai, caste tensions in the region caused the Madras High Court to shift the hearing of the case to Karur.

The high court also ordered prosecution witnesses to be protected under various provisions of the Civil Rights Act.

During the trial, one of the accused died and the rest were all found guilty, Mohan said.

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