Three convicted over killing of Indian PM may be freed as judges rule they cannot be kept indefinitely on death row
India’s supreme court has commuted the death sentences of three men convicted of assassinating Rajiv Gandhi, the country’s former prime minister, in a case that has riveted the nation for 23 years, the Guardian reports.
A special anti-terrorism court eventually found four people guilty in 1998. They included a woman, Nalini, who gave birth to a daughter while in prison. She was granted mercy when Rajiv’s widow, Sonia, intervened but three others – Santhan, Perarivalan and Murugan (Indian Tamils do not use surnames) – were to be executed in September 2011 when the Madras high court intervened, citing their mercy petitions.
On Tuesday the supreme court said keeping the men on death row indefinitely was wrong and granted them mercy. Perarivalan’s family reacted with relief and joy in Chennai: “It’s an emotional moment,” his aunt told NDTV. “When you see him, he’s a good human being. He will be released and will be enjoying family life.”
She was asked what would she say to the victims’ families. “Twenty-three years have passed … so definitely we want our son to be released. Other families, they are suffering, we have regret for that, but our son cannot be punished.”