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Two Kerala cops get death for custodial murder of 23-year-old

The two Kerala cops allegedly found Rs 4,000 in Udayakumar’s possession, accused him of stealing it and subjected him to custodial torture.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2018 22:34 IST
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Kerala police,Kerala,police custody death
The CBI took over the probe in 2008, after Udayakumar’s mother Prabhavati Amma (pictured) told the Kerala high court that the state police was dragging its feet on the investigation.(HT Photo)

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Wednesday awarded the death sentence to two policemen who were convicted of torturing a 26-year-old man to death 13 years ago in a police station in Thiruvananthapuram, the Kerala capital.

It is the first time that serving police officers have been awarded capital punishment in the southern state, lawyers said.

Civil police officers K Jithakumar and SV Sreekumar, the main accused in the case, deserved no sympathy, Judge K Nazar observed, as he handed out capital punishment to the two men and also ordered them to pay a fine of ₹2 lakh each. As the judge delivered the verdict, both men broke down in the courtroom.

Prabhavati Amma, the 68-year-old mother of victim Udayakumar, who fought a lone battle for 13 years to secure justice in the case, heard the verdict with folded hands.

The court also awarded three years’ imprisonment to three others accused — retired superintendent of police TK Haridas, and deputy superintendents of police Ajith Kumar and EK Sabu — for trying to cover up the crime and destroying evidence. All three were granted bail by the court. On Tuesday, the five were found guilty by the court.

The judge said he found no circumstances to reduce the capital punishment awarded to Jithakumar and Sreekumar.

Calling it a “rarest of the rare” crime, he said the case raised grave concern as it was committed by law enforcers who were bound to protect the innocent. Their actions had eroded public trust in the law enforcement system, the judge said.

Both Jithakumar and Sreekumar are serving police officers. Their counsel said both will challenge the verdict in the high court.

“I lived all these years to hear this verdict. I am satisfied now. No mother should undergo my plight. Hope this will act as a strong deterrent against police brutality,” the mother said.

The CBI case was that police constables Jithakumar and Sreekumar apprehended Udayakumar from a park along with a history-sheeter, identified as Suresh. When they recovered ₹4,000 from Udayakumar, they suspected it was stolen money and tortured him.

Though he was let off initially after proving his innocence, the prosecution said that when he sought the return of his money, the policemen falsely implicated him in another case and began torturing him again, which led to his death the next day.

The post-mortem revealed that he received more than 40 injuries on his thighs and lower abdomen.

The trial hit several snags in its course as several key witnesses turned hostile.

The CBI took over the investigation in 2008, after the mother moved the high court with a plea to hand over the case to the central agency, alleging that the state police were dragging their feet in the probe.

The verdict was hailed by former director general of police Jacob Punnose and Congress leader V M Sudheeran.

Addressing a function in Kollam in south Kerala, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said without mentioning the verdict that it was the duty of the police to protect the people and errant officers will be dealt with sternly.

First Published: Jul 25, 2018 13:38 IST