The District and Sessions court here on Friday delivered sentences for two persons who were convicted in the sensational murder case of Kadayinikkad Gopakumar.

District principal judge K.P. Prasanna Kumari sentenced Unnikrishnan (37) of Kallickal House in Kadayanikkad, who was the second accused in the case, to life imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs. 1,25,500. Unnikrishnan, the brother of the victim, was found guilty under Section 302 (murder), Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), Section 447 (criminal trespass) and Section 341 (wrongful restraint) of the Indian Penal Code.

The concurrent sentences awarded to him included life imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1 lakh (under Section 302 of the IPC), imprisonment for five years and a fine of Rs. 25,000 (under Section 201), imprisonment for three months and a fine of Rs. 500 (under Section 447), and imprisonment for one month (under Section 341). The court also stated that the default of the fine of Rs. 1 lakh would lead to additional imprisonment for a year, default of the Rs. 25,000 fine to an additional imprisonment of six months, and that of the Rs. 500 fine to an additional imprisonment of two weeks.

The first accused, Binuraj (30), of Pazhavangadi in Ranni, was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for five years and a fine of Rs. 25,000.He was found guilty under Section 201 of the IPC.

Sibling rivalry behind killing

The incident occurred on November 30, 2007. According to the prosecution, led by District Public Prosecutor R. Vikraman Nair, both Binuraj and Unnikrishnan, along with the third accused Biju, a relative of the victim, had strangled and killed the victim. They later transported the body in a plastic sack to the Chelikkuzhi Reserve Forest along the Pampa – Vadasserikkara road where they hid it. Later, they had returned to the spot on March 19, 2009 to destroy the remaining evidence in the case.

Though a missing person’s case had been registered, a breakthrough eluded the local police. Amidst growing public uproar, the case was handed over to the Crime Branch.

The case had taken a dramatic turn on April 26, 2009 when Binuraj was arrested in a theft case. Upon interrogation, he revealed various details that were instrumental in locating the remains of the victim’s body. The Crime Branch confirmed that they had belonged to the victim through the skull superimposition test and by DNA profiling.

The court had noted on Wednesday that the motive of the murder was attributed to sibling rivalry between the victim Gopakumar and his brother Unnikrishnan, over the decision of their parents to hand over the ownership rights of their ancestral property to the former.

The court absolved Biju of all charges against him, following the inability of the prosecution to prove his role in the murder.

Meanwhile, special protection has been set up by the police for the parents of the victim, in the wake of an attempt made by unidentified persons to attack the victim’s 66-year old mother Thankamma on Thursday.