Kerala

Court finds 2 policemen guilty in Udayakumar custodial death case

Prabhavathy Amma, Udayakumar’s mother, speaks to the media after hearing the verdict in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.

Prabhavathy Amma, Udayakumar’s mother, speaks to the media after hearing the verdict in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: S. Mahinsha

The CBI Special Court also held three of the policemen’s immediate supervisors liable for covering up the crime.

The Special Court for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday found two police officers guilty of torturing to death Udayakumar, 26, at the Fort police station here in 2005 and three of their immediate supervisors liable for having attempted to cover up the crime by destroying evidence and fudging station records.

Thecase, w outcome of the hich had meandered through different investigative agencies and various courts for years, was viewed as a milestone in Udayakumar’s ageing single mother Prabhavathi Amma’s battle to bring her son’s assailants to justice. It also marked a watershed in the history of cases relating to police brutality.

Those found guilty of murder are civil police officers K. Jithakumar and S.V. Sreekumar. The CBI’s case was that they had apprehended Udayakumar, a scrapyard employee, and his friend Suresh Kumar from Sreekanteswaram Park around 2 p.m. on September 27, 2005, on the suspicion that they were thieves.

Their suspicion was further aroused when they found ₹4,200 on Udayakumar. The CBI said the officers bound Udayakumar to the bench spreadeagled and inflicted crush injuries on his thighs to extract a confession. The injuries proved to be fatal.

CBI Special Judge J. Nazar found the then Assistant Commissioner, Fort, T.K. Haridas, then Circle inspector E.K. Sabu and then Sub-Inspector Ajith Kumar had conspired to register a false case against Udayakumar after he died in custody to legally justify the wrongful detention and absolve themselves of supervisory lapse. He also found that the officers had fudged station records as part of the cover-up operation.

During the trial, Suresh, who was arrested along with Udayakumar, abruptly reversed his sworn statement that he had witnessed the crime. The court has ordered the CBI to initiate proceedings against him on the charge of perjury.

The CBI bolstered its case by flipping six other suspect officers, who were in the station when the crime happened, and subsequent concealment of the offence, in favour of the prosecution.

The court also gave much credence to forensic expert Thomas Alex’s statement that he had noted bloodstains on the bench on which Udayakumar was tortured and that he had collected samples of the smear for serological examination. The former Assistant Director of the State Forensic Sciences Laboratory also testified that he had found a blood-stained hollow metal pipe and inspected it as part of the examination.

Another key witness, K. Sreekumari, professor, forensic medicine, Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, who had conducted the post-mortem examination on Udayakumar’s body in the presence of the Revenue Divisional Officer, testified that the injuries found on Udayakumar’s thighs were congruent with wounds that could be inflicted using the iron pipe found at the scene.

One of the accused officers, K. V. Soman, died during the trial.

The judge is scheduled to pronounce his sentence in this case on Tuesday evening.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 12:35:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/court-finds-2-policemen-guilty-in-udayakumar-custodial-death-case/article24502560.ece

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