Legal battle set to continue over Marad massacre

via PNS | Kozhikode published on January 16, 2009

Judge Babu Mathew P Joseph of the Special Court, on the Marad massacre of May 2, 2003, had gone through extraordinarily elaborate legal procedures by examining 222 witnesses, hearing the examination of 150 accused, scrutinising more than 5,500 pages of depositions to arrive at its conclusion by awarding life imprisonment to 62 convicted persons and five years’ prison to one.

However, the tragedy still remains, as Prosecution as well as defendants, remaining unsatisfied by the sentence announced on Thursday, it is now almost clear that the legal fight in the case relating to the incident in which eight Hindus were massacred in Beypore village in the darkness of the night almost six years ago would continue.

Immediately, after the announcement of the sentence by the Special Court at Eranhippalam, Kozhikode on Thursday, the Prosecution said it was satisfied with the verdict, but added, that it would go for appeal in the higher court.

There was still a feeling of defeat with the Prosecution that it had been a total failure in proving the conspiracy aspect behind the massacre.

The Prosecution had tried to brand this as of the rarest of the rare cases in the history of the Judiciary but the judge felt this was not correct, and refused to award any sentence severe than rigorous life imprisonment to the 62 convicted persons.

The Prosecution had requested for the maximum possible punishment to 14 of the convicted as they were involved in more than one murder, especially one of these 14 who had been involved in three murders, which the court said was difficult to believe.

After the sentence was announced, Special Public Prosecutor PD Ravi told newsmen outside the Special Court that a decision on going for appeal in the High Court would be taken after discussions with the Government.

But, by the evening, it became clear that the Prosecution would appeal to High Court.

At the same time, G Janardana Kurup, one of the senior-most lawyers in the entire State and the counsel for the defendants, said he would approach the High Court with appeal against the sentence awarded to the convicted persons. The sentence was not all correct, he said.

He said the verdict had dealt a ‘fatal blow” to the Prosecution.

“I can tell you that the judge had done his duty, truthfully. But there are other things. Even the media had been forced to take sides in this case because of its peculiarity. But I will say that there was a conspiracy behind building up this case by connecting together very weak evidences,” Kurup said.

State BJP president PK Krishnadas said that the sentence was not at all satisfactory. “The BJP is repeatedly asking the Government to go for appeal against the Special Court verdict to ensure that full justice is delivered,” he said.

He also said that everything possible should be done – which was nothing but a serious CBI probe – to bring out the conspiracy behind the massacre.

Former State BJP chief PS Sreedharan Pillai said that only partial justice had been delivered in the case. The probe had not been able to reach the roots of the case, he said.

“For that, there should be a CBI probe but the two main fronts – UDF and LDF – have been sabotaging the moves for that,” he said.

“This is a case in which workers of Muslim League and CPI(M) have directly been involved in the most brutal massacre Kerala had ever seen. In this situation, these parties should do introspection,” he said, calling for steps to deliver full justice.

State Congress president Ramesh Chennithala said the verdict should serve as a lesson to those who tried to destroy the secular fabric of the Kerala society. “It should serve as a warning so that nobody should ever again try to perpetrate such acts,” Chennithala said in Kalpetta.

The trial of the case had started on December 20, 2004 and concluded on April 10 last. Apart from the 222 witnesses provided by the Prosecution, the court had examined seven witnesses it had found on its own.

It had also examined 778 exhibits submitted by the prosecution and 57 exhibits produced by the defense counsels.

Amidst allegations of a CPI(M) bid to use the Marad massacre issue to its advantage in the coming Lok Sabha polls, the LDF Cabinet on November 19 approved a proposal to freshly demand a CBI probe into the case.

The Government was to send a letter to the Union Government asking for a CBI probe into the aspects of conspiracy, sources of funds, involvement of external forces, use of explosives and mobilization of weapons in the massacre.

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