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Lax probe comes to haunt Siby Mathew

G. Krishnakumar
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Siby Mathew
Siby Mathew

The CBI’s finding that the ‘unprofessional conduct’ of investigation into the ISRO espionage by the Kerala Police seems to be once again haunting Siby Mathews, who headed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that first investigated the espionage case way back in 1994 and later the Suryanelli case.

The CBI report into the espionage case, which had recommended action against four investigating officers, including Mr. Mathews, had clearly stated that “he did not take adequate steps either in regard to the thorough interrogation of the accused persons by the Kerala Police or verification of the so called disclosures made by the accused persons”.

Almost 17 years after the ‘Suryanelli girl’ named the current Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman, P. J. Kurien, as one among her tormentors, Mr. Mathews is now in the docks, especially after the victim pointed out in her letter (dated January 29) submitted before the Supreme Court that the investigating team failed to file a charge sheet against Mr. Kurien after completing the investigation.

“During the course of investigation of the case I have stated that fact to every investigating officer, who has questioned me,” she said.

In his autobiography Ente Jeevitham (My Life), G. Janardhana Kurup, who was the then Special Prosecutor in the case, had noted that Mr. Mathews ignored the accepted practice of criminal trial and gave preferences to alibis by Mr. Kurien and not the statements by the victim.

Curiously, Mr. Mathews did not counter or challenge Kurup’s statement, even though it was published in 2003. It was only after the new controversy broke out that Mr. Mathews commented that Mr. Kurup had mounted pressure on him to include Mr. Kurien in the list of accused.

The new letter written by the victim also complained that no charge sheet was filed against Mr. Kurien despite her repeating the allegation.

K. K. Joshua, who was part of the SIT team led by Mr. Mathews, has also gone on record stating that neither the photograph of Mr. Kurien was not shown to the girl during questioning nor an identification parade was held, which would have sealed the case against Mr. Kurien.

Interestingly, the CBI report into the espionage case had pointed out that “neither Mr. Siby Mathew and his team recovered any incriminating ISRO documents from the accused persons nor any money alleged to have been paid to the accused persons by their foreign masters. It was unprofessional on his part to have ordered indiscriminate arrests of top ISRO scientists who played a key role in successful launching of satellites in the space and thereby caused avoidable mental and physical agony to them”.

Recalling that Mr. Mathews, from his own experience, was not looking at the truth, Nambi Narayanan, the former ISRO scientist acquitted in the espionage case, told The Hindu on Tuesday that “you need some extent of knowledge and also the manner in which such a technology can be transferred to decipher a spy case”.

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