Setting aside a lower court’s verdict, the Kerala High Court Thursday acquitted eight persons who were sentenced to life term over the road rage murder of young businessman Paul Muthoot George in 2009.
George was the executive director of the then Rs 20,000-crore Muthoot Group — one of the leading Non Banking Financial Companies in the country.
The High Court observed that the CBI, which probed the case, could not categorically prove that the accused had committed the murder. The court also did not admit the CBI contention that the murder was pre-meditated.
In 2015, the CBI court had found 13 persons guilty. While nine had been awarded a life term, the remaining four, who were found guilty for destroying evidence, had been sentenced to three years in jail. Eight of the nine awarded the life term had moved an appeal in the High Court.
According to the prosecution, George, then 32, was travelling along the Alappuzha-Changanassery road on the night of August 22, 2009. He was accompanied by two wanted men, 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 someone in Alappuzha. However, one of their vehicles developed a 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’s rider.
This provoked the gang’s leader, K Jayachandran, who asked his colleagues in the other vehicle to follow the car.
The other gang members tracked down George’s car later that night. They got into a scuffle with George and subsequently, one of the gang members, K Satheesh, stabbed him. The two wanted men accompanying George fled the scene.
The case was initially probed by the state police. But George’s family moved the High Court, which handed over the probe to CBI. Both the 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 wanted men, Om Prakash and Puthanpalam Rajesh, were allegedly close to the son of then home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, a CPI(M) Politburo member.