They seek to suspend the RI awarded to them by special court

As many as 16 accused in the Suryanelli rape case moved the Kerala High Court on Wednesday seeking suspension of the sentence of rigorous imprisonment awarded to them by a special court in Kottayam and release them on bail pending fresh consideration of their appeals.

They approached the court in view of a Supreme Court order setting aside a High Court verdict acquitting all but one accused in the case. The apex court had also ordered the High Court to consider afresh the appeals filed by the accused.

The special court verdict has been restored following the Supreme Court order. The special court had sentenced 35 accused to rigorous imprisonment (RI) for varying terms.

The accused who filed the bail petition are Raju, Varghese, Cherian, Sabu, Babu Mathew, Thankappan, Rajendran Nair, Jacob Stephen, Antony alias Baji, Jigi, Mohammed Yousef, Joseph alias Baby, Asharaf, Sunny George, George Kutty, and Jose.

The petitioners submitted that their family would be subjected to hardship if the court did not permit them to remain on bail by executing fresh bail.

They contended that there may not be any justification for sending them to jail after all these years, solely for the purpose of the fresh hearing of the appeals. The petitioners undertook that they would not abuse the bail granted and would strictly follow the conditions, if any, imposed.

The petitioners claimed that they were absolutely innocent in the case, but the trial court could not properly appreciate it and had overlooked their innocence.

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