August 12, 2011 2:32:40 am
President Pratibha Patil has rejected the mercy petitions of three members of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) convicted in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur on May 21,1991.
A Rashtrapati Bhawan spokesperson said the president turned down the clemency pleas last week. The decision was conveyed to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The president has rejected the mercy petitions of Murugan,Santhan and Perarivalan,the three persons convicted for the murder of Rajiv Gandhi, said spokesperson Archana Dutta. As of May 31,the president has disposed of 11 mercy petitions,while 17 are under active consideration,she said.
In 2000,the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence for the trio Sriharan alias Murugan,T Suthentharajan alias Santhan and A G Perarivelan alias Arivu convicted of criminal conspiracy and execution of the suicide attack plot. On June 21,2005,the MHA sent its recommendation to the president. It was called back for a review on February 23,2011,and was re-submitted to the president on March 8.
The death sentence of the fourth convict,Nalini Sriharan,has since been reduced to life term.
Advocate S Duraisamy,who has represented the four convicts in the past,said: Former president Narayanan returned the recommendation twice when the NDA government sent its opinion on the matter. When the President sends back a recommendation,it is a strong message,asking the government to reconsider its decision,or in other words,telling it that it is wrong. I suspect the Centre has decided to execute Afzal Guru,and these three seem to have been made the scapegoats to prepare ground for that.
While saying that there was still hope of getting the decision overturned by approaching the courts,Duraisamy said the accused have been put through a terrible torture by making them await their deaths for over 10 years.
Advocate P Pugazhendi,who has filed several petitions for the group,said the counsels would discuss the matter among themselves and with the convicts before approaching either the High Court or the Supreme Court.
In May,the President rejected the mercy pleas of Khalistan terrorist Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar and Mahendra Nath Das of Assam. Last month,she commuted the death sentence of Sattan and Guddu of Uttar Pradesh to life imprisonment without parole.
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