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Madras HC to hear Rajiv killers' mercy petition


Meenakshi Mahadevan,CNN-IBN
Aug 30, 2011 at 08:38am IST

New Delhi: The Madras High Court will hear the review petition filed on behalf of the three convicts facing execution for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi even as politics over their death sentence gathers pace.

In Tamil Nadu, pro-Tamil groups have stepped up efforts to stall the execution of Rajiv Gandhi's killers.

Should Murugan alias Sriharan, Santhan and Perarivalan alias Arivu be hanged on September 9? The case of the three convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination has now made it back to the Madras High court.

The three convicts filed a petition on the grounds that the President took 11 years to reject their mercy pleas. Senior Counsel Ram Jethmalani is expected to appear for the convicts in a case that has political overtones.

65-year-old Arputhammal hopes the protests could help her stop the hanging of her son Perarivalan on September 9.

K Perarivalan alias Arivu is the only Indian National amongst the three men who are facing the death sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case on September 9. But will Arivu, Sriharan and Santhan be hanged or will the case drag further despite the President rejecting their mercy plea - that decision may now lie with the Madras High Court.

The families of the death row convicts hope political and legal intervention could stop the hanging.

"I can only pray that the Chief Minister does the right thing. I've been fighting for my only son's life for 21 years now," said K Arputhammal, Perarivalan's mother.

In the Rajiv assassination case, initially 26 accused were sentenced to death by the trial court of which the Supreme Court confirmed the sentences of five - of them Nalini Sriharan's sentence was commuted on the grounds that she's a mother. Like in most such cases this case and the verdict too have had its share of critics and political overtones. Despite the President rejecting the mercy plea, the DMK, which is part of the UPA wants the Centre to commute the death sentence. Jayalalithaa says she can't do much even as Tamil hardliners raise the pitch in favour of the convicts.

"I don't have power to commute death sentence of three convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. They should appeal to the President again," said Jayalalithaa, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.

Smaller parties like the MDMK too, are trying to gain political mileage out of the issue.

"They are innocent and innocent persons shouldn't be hanged. I humbly request the state government to protect their lives," said Vaiko, General Secretary, MDMK.

Amidst all the politics over the issue, a petition has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking a stay over the hanging on the ground that the convicts had to wait for 11 long years for the President's decision. Now, it is up to the court to take a decision on the fate of the three convicts.

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