Gemstone dealer’s business partner acquitted

A district court here on Monday found five men guilty of the murder of gemstone dealer Hari Hara Varma in 2012.

It will pronounce its sentence on Tuesday. Those found guilty are M. Jithesh, 33; V. Ajeesh, 27; Rakhil, 24; Jitesh’s cousin, Rakesh, 21; and J. Joseph, 20. They hail from North Kerala and were part of a fraternity of Malayali students in Bangalore. None has any previous police record.

Sessions Judge K.K. Sujatha, who heard the case, acquitted Haridas, Varma’s business partner, for want of evidence.

The prosecution case was that Jitesh, who was Varma’s middleman in “shady” deals involving the transaction of antiques and jewels of questionable value, had plotted the crime to make quick money.

Varma routinely met potential buyers on rented premises and required them to prove their solvency by paying a cash advance merely to view the “gems”. During the trial, the court heard that three of the youth, posing as rich buyers from Karnataka, had met Varma, at the behest of Jitesh, at a rented house at Vattiyurkavu in the presence of Haridas on December 24.

They served Varma and Haridas soft drinks spiked with sleeping pills and then smothered them with chloroform soaked cloth.

Varma died from the combined effects of chloroform and throttling, while Haridas survived the ordeal, causing the police to suspect that he was part of the conspiracy.

The police team headed by Additional Director General of Police A. Hemachandran, Assistant Commissioner K.E. Baiju, Sub-Inspector C. Mohanan and Senior Civil Police Officer K. Manikantan relied on the analysis of Varma’s mobile phone to identify the suspects.

V.S. Vineet Kumar prosecuted the case.