A CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday sentenced nine accused to life imprisonment and four others to three years in jail in the sensational case pertaining to the murder of young businessman Paul Muthoot George in 2009. George had been the executive director of the Rs 20,000-crore Muthoot Group, one of the leading NBFCs in the country.
Earlier in the day, judge R Raghu found 13 accused persons guilty while acquitting another alleged accused. The nine accused persons, who got life term, had direct involvement in the murder, while the other four had been charged for destroying the evidence.
George was the executive director of the Rs 20,000-crore Muthoot Group, one of the leading NBFC in the country.
According to the prosecution, George was travelling along the Alappuzha-Changanassery road on the night of August 22, 2009. He was accompanied by two wanted criminals, Om Prakash and Puthanpalam Rajesh, who allegedly had links with CPI (M) leaders.
The accused persons were members of a supari gang, who were going from Changanassery to Alappuzha in two vans to attack a person in Alappuzha. However, one of their vehicles developed some hitch. While they were repairing the vehicle, the car in which George and his friends were travelling hit a two-wheeler parked near the van which was being repaired. However, George drove away without attending to the two-wheeler rider. This provoked supari gang leader K Jayachandran who asked his colleagues in the other vehicle to follow the car.
The other gang members acted accordingly and tracked down the businessman’s car later in that night. They got into a scuffle with George and subsequently, one of the gang members, K Satheesh, stabbed George. Meanwhile, the two criminals who were accompanying George fled the scene.
Initially, the case was probed by the state police. But, George’s family moved the High Court, which handed over the probe to CBI. Both investigating agencies had concluded that there was no conspiracy behind the murder, which, according to the police, was an outcome of an accidental roadside scuffle.
The murder had snowballed into a major controversy after it was found that the criminals, Om Prakash and Puthanpalam Rajesh, were allegedly close to the son of then home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, a CPI (M) Politburo member. The state police revealed that George was stabbed using an “S” shaped knife. They recovered one such knife, but later a blacksmith said the police had asked him to make such a knife after the murder. CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan, then party state secretary, had joined issue saying the S knife was normally used by the RSS.