Shaji Purushothaman, prime suspect in the Mercedes accident case, arrived at Chennai airport under heavy police escort from Kochi at 6.40 p.m. on Thursday, bringing to a close a 20-day manhunt. He was remanded to judicial custody till June 27 and sent to Puzhal prison.

Earlier in the day, at 9.30 a.m., he was detained by the immigration wing of Cochin international airport at Nedumbassery, near Kochi, and subsequently handed over to a waiting team of Tamil Nadu police. A lookout circular against Shaji had been issued at airports across India.

On his arrival in Chennai, Shaji – clad in a blue blazer, white shirt and black trousers – was whisked away in a police van to the Shastri Nagar traffic police station, but not before a minor scuffle between the police and camera-toting mediapersons.

At around 8.30 p.m., after 45 minutes of grilling at the police station, Shaji was escorted to the residence of the Egmore magistrate L. Abraham Lincoln in Saidapet, and remanded to judicial custody till June 27 and later taken to Puzhal prison.

Shaji, scion of the Empee Group, a leading conglomerate in south India with stakes in the hospitality, liquor, sugar, power, packaging, transport, construction and export industries, is alleged to have driven a Mercedes-Benz car while drunk in the early hours of May 23 and ploughed the luxury sedan into people sleeping on a pavement in Egmore (Chennai), killing a 13-year-old boy and causing grievous injuries to a 10-year-old girl. Absconding since then,

Shaji was declared a proclaimed offender by the XIV Metropolitan magistrate’s court at Egmore.

Immigration officials at Cochin airport said Shaji seemed to have come prepared to surrender.