After a decade-long trial, a local court on Wednesday sentenced to life eight persons for the murder of former Rashtriya Janata Dal minister Brij Bihari Prasad in 1998.
Among the convicted are ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) legislator Vijay Kumar Shukla, former Lok Janshakti Party MP Surajbhan Singh and former Independent legislator Rajen Tiwari.
The ninth accused, JD-U legislator Shashi Kumar Rai, was sentenced to two years imprisonment. He was later released on bail.
Prasad, a minister in the Rabri Devi cabinet, was shot dead along with his security guard Lakshmeshwar Singh on June 13, 1998 at a Patna hospital, where he was undergoing treatment. He was in judicial custody then.
Additional district and sessions judge Vijay Prakash Mishra turned down the prosecution’s request that the case be treated as “rarest of rare”, which, if granted, could have meant death sentences for the accused.
Of the 15 accused in the case, Bhupendra Dubey, a former legislator, and Sri Prakash Shukla, died during the course of the trial. Another accused, Sunil Singh, committed suicide in Beur Central Jail in 2007, while one more, Satish Pandey, was declared an absconder.
Prasad’s widow Rama Devi, a Bharatiya Janata Party MP, however, said she was not satisfied with the sentence.
She said her husband was killed in judicial custody, particularly when he had sought tighter security. “The accused should have been sentenced to death,” she said.