News / Asia

India Court Commutes Gandhi Killers' Death Sentences to Life

A television journalist sets his camera inside the premises of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, Feb. 18, 2014.
A television journalist sets his camera inside the premises of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, Feb. 18, 2014.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— India's Supreme Court commuted death sentences on three men for involvement in the killing of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi to life imprisonment on Tuesday because of an 11-year delay in deciding on their petitions for mercy.
 
Gandhi was killed by an ethnic Tamil suicide bomber while campaigning in an election in the southern Indian town of Sriperumbudur in May 1991.
 
The three Indian men - tried as Santhan, Murugan, Perarivalan - were members of a Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and Gandhi's killing was seen as an act of retaliation after he sent Indian peacekeepers to Sri Lanka in 1987.
 
The three were convicted of involvement in 1998 and sentenced to death by hanging. A fourth person, a woman, was also given the death sentence but it was later commuted to a life term.
 
The men appealed for mercy but successive Indian presidents gave no decision until 2011, when their plea was rejected.
 
“Delay in deciding mercy pleas is one of the grounds to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment,” the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, said.
 
Gandhi's widow, Sonia, is head of the Congress party while their son, Rahul, leads its campaign for elections in the next few months.
 
FILE - In this photograph taken on May 20, 1991 National Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi casts his ballot at a polling station in New Delhi for the first round of the general election.FILE - In this photograph taken on May 20, 1991 National Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi casts his ballot at a polling station in New Delhi for the first round of the general election.
x
FILE - In this photograph taken on May 20, 1991 National Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi casts his ballot at a polling station in New Delhi for the first round of the general election.
FILE - In this photograph taken on May 20, 1991 National Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi casts his ballot at a polling station in New Delhi for the first round of the general election.
Rajiv Gandhi's mother, Indira, was assassinated in 1984 over the army's storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar to crush a Sikh militant movement.
 
The death penalty remains in force in India despite a long campaign by human rights groups to abolish it. It has rarely been carried out, however.
 
About 500 people are on death row, many of them for years.
 
In November 2012, India ended what many rights groups had interpreted as an undeclared moratorium on capital punishment when it executed a gunman convicted for the 2008 militant attack on Mumbai. Three months later, it hanged a man from Kashmir for a 2001 militant attack on parliament.
 
The Supreme Court said on Tuesday the administration must move faster on deciding on mercy petitions in the interest of justice.
 
Last month, the Supreme Court commuted the sentences of 15 death row prisoners to life in jail on the grounds of delay.
 
Human rights group Amnesty International said the commuting of the death sentences was encouraging, especially following the January decision.
 
“India must now do away with the death penalty - a cruel, inconsistent and irreversible form of punishment that has no proven deterrent effect on crime,” Divya Iyer, senior researcher with Amnesty International India, said in a statement.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid