TAMIL NADU

Death penalty commuted in multiple murder case

CHENNAI OCT. 31 . The death penalty awarded to three persons convicted in a multiple murder case has been commuted to life sentence by the Madras High Court, which acquitted the fourth condemned person of all charges. (The first three are all brothers, while the fourth is their maternal uncle.)

The accused, along with five others, murdered Kannan and three of his sons, belonging to Kalnattar-Kollakottai in Tiruvannamalai district, following a dispute over possession of a 5-acre poromboke land on September 15, 1997. The additional sessions judge at Tiruvannamalai awarded death sentence to Chinnadurai, Kuzhandhai Esu, Selvam and Abraham on August 28, 2002, and acquitted three others. Two other accused died during the pendency of the case.

The matter was referred to the High Court for confirmation. The first three accused also appealed against the sentence.

Yesterday, a division bench comprising Justice N. Dhinakar and Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla acquitted Abraham, pointing out that while three prosecution witnesses deposed on his involvement in the crime, two others did not mention him at all. As there were two sets of prosecution witnesses, contradicting each other, the benefit of the doubt should go to the accused.

As for the other three condemned persons, the bench said it was not a case for capital sentence, as it was primarily a land dispute between two families.

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