Court lauds investigation team’s work

A district court here on Tuesday sentenced five youth found guilty of the murder of gemstone dealer Hari Hara Varma to imprisonment for life.

They are M. Jithesh, 33; V. Ajeesh, 27; Rakhil, 24; Jitesh’s cousin, Rakesh, 21; and J. Joseph, 20. All hail from an educated working-class background in North Kerala and have no previous criminal record.

Clemency sought

The youth sought the clemency of the court. Joseph, the son of a settler farmer, said he needed to complete his education and repay his study loan.

“I am my parent’s only hope,” he said. The others said they had aged parents in need of support. Jitesh had his son and wife to look after. Few of the youth broke down in the witness box.

Prosecutor V.S. Vineet Kumar told the court that the youth did not deserve the capital punishment as the crime did not fall under the ‘rarest of rare’ category. Jitesh and Rakesh, the prime accused in the case, deserved no leniency.

Jitesh was Varma’s middleman in ‘shady’ deals involving the transaction of antiques and jewels of questionable value.

The operation

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 one Haridas on December 24.

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

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

The court later acquitted Haridas for want of evidence.

The court placed on record its appreciation for the investigation team headed by Additional Director General of Police A. Hemchandran, Assistant Commissioner K.E. Baiju, sub-inspector C. Mohanan, and senior civil police officer K. Manikantan and prosecutors Vineet Kumar and S. Subash.

More In: Kerala | National