Hotel chief surrenders days after life term for murder

March 23rd, 2009 - 11:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, March 23 (IANS) P. Rajagopal, founder of the Saravana Bhavan restaurants, surrendered before a court Monday, five days after the Madras High Court sentenced him to life imprisonment for murdering his employee eight years ago.
There was high drama at the session’s court as police refused to arrest him despite judge C.S. Murugan issuing an arrest warrant after receiving a petition of surrender from Rajagopal.

The police refused to enter the court as they did not want to risk entering the premises and arrest Rajagopal after having been chastised by the high court last week for assaulting lawyers, an official said on condition of anonymity.

Finally, flanked by his defence counsels and the prosecution, Rajagopal arrived at the nearby Esplanade police station followed by TV cameras and allowed himself to be arrested and sent off to prison in a police vehicle.

Awarded a 10-year rigorous imprisonment sentence by a fast track court earlier for murdering Prince Shantakumar in 2001 by a fast track court, Rajagopal’s prison time was enhanced to life by a division bench of the Madras High Court, March 19.

“I have surrendered to the court but will appeal in the Supreme Court (against the conviction),” Rajagopal told reporters.

Rajagopal was not arrested despite the lapse of almost 100 hours after his conviction and cancellation of bail last Thursday.

The March 19 verdict was announced by a division bench comprising Justices P.K. Mishra and R. Banumathi, who convicted Rajagopal and six others.

He had also been accused of sexually harassing Shantakumar’s widow, Jeevajothi, and the daughter of another employee Ramaswamy.

Rajagopal, 59, founded the Saravana Bhavan chain of hotels worldwide in 1981. The hotel chain has over 25 outlets in India, and several in other countries

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