The First Additional Sessions Court here on Tuesday found six persons, including former model, fledgling actor, and self-styled social activist Om Prakash, guilty of the gangland murder of Aprani Krishnakumar in 2007.
Judge K.P. Indira said she would sentence them on April 27. She found Om Prakash and his fundraiser Prasanth, a government contractor, guilty of conspiring to murder Krishnakumar to further their underworld business interests (mainly removal of construction-grade sand from canals under the guise of dredging) in the district.
The court said it found merit in the prosecution’s case that the duo had mustered gangsters who harboured grudges against Krishnakumar, a gangster himself, and plotted and funded his murder. The court also found the accused guilty of providing safe houses to the accused before and after the crime.
The court also found guilty the members of the hit-team, which included Ambalamukku Krishnakumar, an accused in four murder cases; Kochu Vava, alias Pratheesh; Jamanthy Arun; and Venukuttan.
The Judge said the accused in the case had ‘money and muscle.’ During trial, persons suspected to be on the payroll of the accused had threatened several witnesses, kidnapped one of them, and attempted to murder another.
Several prosecution witnesses turned hostile in the case during trial. The court praised on record investigating officers, Assistant Commissioner R. Mahesh and Sub Inspector C. Mohanan, and special prosecutor Sajan Prasad for successfully investigating and prosecuting the case, despite several extraneous pressures, including threats to life of the officers and their family members. (The State government had accorded the three of them armed police protection). The investigators had relied on circumstantial and digital evidence, including mobile phone call data records of the accused, to prove the case. An armed gang had ambushed Krishnakumar’s car with a well-aimed crude bomb that exploded on impact and hacked him to death on a piece of marshy land abutting the congested National Highway bypass near Chakka at 11.30 a.m. on February 20, 2007.
He was travelling home after making a court appearance when he was murdered.
The Judge said the case had a direct bearing on public peace, as the victim and accused persons were feuding gang leaders who headed rival factions in the district’s politically connected underworld.