Kathiravan, a prime accused in the Sankararaman murder case, was hacked to death by a five-member gang near his house in K.K. Nagar on Thursday morning. All the five surrendered at the Tiruvottiyur Court in the evening.

According to the police, Kathiravan (40) was a member of Appu’s gang. Appu is among the main accused in the sensational Sankararaman murder case. The other suspects include Kanchi Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi and his junior Vijendra Saraswathi.

Sankararaman, the manager of Varadarajaperumal Temple in Kancheepuram, was murdered in 2004.

According to police, Kathiravan, a former State volleyball player, was a resident of Sathya Garden in K.K. Nagar. On Thursday, around 7.45 a.m., he left his house in a car. When the chauffeur-driven car reached nearby Sivalingapuram, another car suddenly blocked its path.

Five persons wielding deadly weapons, including knives, stepped out. Sensing the danger, Kathiravan took to his heels. “The gang pursued Karthiravan and soon, caught up with him. They surrounded him and hacked him to death,” said a police officer.

The K.K. Nagar police rushed to the spot for investigation. A case was registered. Meanwhile, the members of the gang — Saravanan, Rajesh, Ameer, Madhavan and Ramesh — surrendered at the Tiruvottiyur court.

According to police sources, Kathiravan was the first to be arrested in the Sankararaman murder case. He had joined Appu's gang as a driver and risen to the position of a trusted aide. He had also deposed before a magistrate stating that the police forced him to give a confession in the murder case.

The trial in the murder case has been shifted to Puducherry from Chengalpattu.

A total of 189 witnesses, including Padma, wife of Sankararaman, his son and daughter, have so far been examined and 81 of them have turned hostile.