As many as 52 of the 166 prosecution witnesses had turned hostile during trial

A combination of factors, even loopholes in the charge sheet, could have possibly resulted in the acquittal of several accused in the killing of the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) leader T.P. Chandrasekharan at Onchiyam on May 4, 2012.

The Special Additional Sessions Court (Marad cases) at Eranhipalam, on Wednesday, set free 24 of the 36 persons who faced trial. Initially, the special police team had submitted a list of 76 accused. However, two of them were acquitted under Section 227 (discharge) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC) before the trial court framed the charge sheet.

Before that, the Kerala High Court, in January 2013, stayed the trial proceedings against 15. And then again in September 2013, the trial court acquitted 20 others under Section 232 of the Cr.PC. Two other accused, T. Rahul and K. Mohammed Sahir, are still at large. C.H. Ashokan, former Onchiyam area secretary, who was named the ninth accused, died.

Sources told The Hindu here on Thursday that the charge sheet had omissions and ambiguities that gave the special public prosecutors a difficult time during the examination and cross-examination of witnesses. As many as 52 of the 166 prosecution witnesses had turned hostile during trial. The conspiracy charges could not be established against many of the accused, including P. Mohanan, member of the district secretariat of the CPI (M), as “there was no clarity on corroborating evidence.”

Clinching evidence

No clinching evidence was gathered to “link the conspirators with the prime accused” who were convicted. Besides, materials and documents were insufficient to prove the conspiracy angle. Tainted and untrustworthy witnesses complicated matters, leading to a large number of them turning hostile. Even close relatives and party workers were made witnesses to depose against the accused.

The prosecution failed to substantiate the conspiracy charge against K.K. Krishnan, member of the Onchiyam area committee of the CPI(M).

Sentencing on January 28

The Special Additional Sessions Court (Marad Cases) here, which convicted 12 persons in connection with the murder of Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) leader T.P. Chandrasekharan, will pronounce the quantum of punishment on January 28.

This was after Judge R. Narayana Pisharadi heard the arguments after reading the offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to the convicts and recording their statements and also hearing the arguments from the prosecution and defence sides. Special prosecutor C.K. Sreedharan said it should be categorised in the rarest of rare cases.

Defence counsel M. Ashokan countered the argument of the prosecution that the accused deserved death penalty.