Warders acquitted in jailbreak case

CHENNAI MAY 29. Five persons, including four jail warders, charged with aiding a group of LTTE cadres to escape from the Chennai Central Prison in 1995 were acquitted by a city court today.

The Fast Track Court-I Judge, S. Asokan, said the prosecution was not justified in including the warders as accused without arraigning higher officials of the prison who were also equally responsible for a security lapse. Moreover, the conspiracy and abetment charges against the accused were not proved beyond doubt.

In all, five warders — Deenadayalan, Surulinathan (since dead), Velayuthapani, Selika Masthan and Annadurai — had been charged with helping eight LTTE cadres and one Tamil National Retrieval Troop member escape. Another acquitted person, `Dhali' Kumar, was accused of smuggling in cyanide capsule for the culprits prior to their escape. The TADA detenus, numbering nine, used a gun, ropes and bedsheets to scale the prison walls on the night of February 27, 1995. Two of them — Shanmugasundaram, who was in the jail in connection with the `LTTE submarine case', and Menon alias Kutty — consumed cyanide just outside the jail premises and died immediately.

Balan and Balendran were recaptured. After they pleaded guilty, they were sentenced to imprisonment for two years in 1997. Originally, they were in jail along with three other LTTE cadres after having been captured mid-sea as they were transporting arms and ammunitions in a ship, Tonganova, in 1991.

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