Rajiv Gandhi killers move Madras High Court
Chennai: The three men on death row for their involvement in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on Monday moved the Madras High Court to stay their Sep 9 hanging, even as the DMK and some other parties called for commutation of their death sentence.
MDMK general secretary Vaiko and advocate N. Chandrasekaran filed the petition on behalf of the condemned prisoners - Murugan alias Sriharan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan and AG Perarivalan alias Arivu.
Meanwhile, DMK chief M Karunanidhi, MDMK general secretary Vaiko and some other leaders urged the central government to save the lives of the three while demonstrations to press the demand were reported from Chennai and several other towns in Tamil Nadu.
However, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa told the state assembly that she had no power to grant pardon to the convicted.
"Vaiko has filed the petition on behalf of Perarivalan. Vaiko is the counsel on record. Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani will appear for Perarivalan. The case is expected to come up for hearning Tuesday morning," MDMK legal wing secretary G. Devadoss said.
On Aug 11, President Pratibha Patil had rejected the mercy petitions of the trio, linked to the LTTE and sentenced to death for involvement in the 1991 assassination.
A woman suicide bomber blew herself up, killing Gandhi, prime minister of India from 1984 to 1989, at an election rally in Sriperumbudur near Chennai May 21, 1991.
Apart from Gandhi, 14 others also lost their lives in the blast.
In 1998, all the 26 accused in the case - including the three - were sentenced to die by a special trial court for Gandhi's killing.
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 the killing.
Soon after the confirmation of their sentence, they made a mercy plea to the Indian president, which was rejected Aug 11.