President rejects mercy petition of Rajiv killers (Lead)

August 11th, 2011 - 8:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil has rejected the mercy petition of three men sentenced to death for involvement in former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, an official said Thursday.

“The president rejected the mercy petition last week,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson told IANS.

The petitioners were Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, all linked to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Murugan belonged to the intelligence wing of the now vanquished LTTE.

In 1998, all 26 accused in the case - including the three - were sentenced to die by a special trial court for Gandhi’s grotesque killing.

A woman suicide bomber blew up Gandhi, who was prime minister of India from 1984 to 1989, at an election rally in Sriperumbudur near Chennai May 21, 1991.

In 1999, the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentences of four: Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan and Nalini, an Indian woman who had assisted the killer squad.

The capital punishment of the others was reduced to varying terms of imprisonment.

The death sentence of Nalini, who became a mother in prison, was commuted to life imprisonment after her mercy petition was accepted. The petition had the recommendation of Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi’s widow.

Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan and the others were charged with criminal conspiracy that led to Gandhi’s killing.

Soon after the confirmation of their sentence, they petitioned the Indian president.

The home ministry sent its opinion on the subject in June 2005, reviewed it in February 2011, and re-submitted it to the president March 8 this year.

In May, the president rejected the mercy petitions of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar of Punjab, a separatist, and Mahendra Nath Das of Assam, following recommendations from the home ministry .

Bhullar was sentenced to death August 2001 for plotting terror attacks on Punjab Police official Sumedh Singh Saini in 1991 and then Youth Congress president M.S. Bitta in 1993.

Das was found guilty of murdering Hara Kanta Das.

On Wednesday, the home ministry advised the president to reject the mercy petition of Afzal Guru, sentenced to death for the attack on Parliament in December 2001.

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