Trial against former Sri Lankan minister Douglas begins

Other accused will face trial as and when they were nabbed.

Chennai: Trial in the nearly three-decade old murder case against former Sri Lankan minister Douglas Devananda commenced on Monday before a sessions court here. The IV additional sessions judge, M. Shanthi, before whom a prosecution witness was examined by additional city public prosecutor M. Prabhavathy, posted for February 1, further hearing of the case.

According to Prabhavathy, a prosecution witness was present in the court for identifying the accused. So, she requested the court to permit her to examine the witness and treat the matter as part heard. Accordingly, when she examined him, the witness narrated the incident which occurred in 1986. Thereafter, the judge adjourned the matter.

Meanwhile, prosecution also filed a memo seeking a direction to produce the accused in person or direct the defence counsel to produce the accused through video conferencing, she said. Originally, allowing a petition from the prosecution to split up the trial against Devananda and 8 other accused, the judge had on December 15 ordered issue of summons to 18 witnesses for their appearance before the court today for examination. As all the nine accused in connection with the Deepavali-eve murder in 1986 were absconding with non-bailable warrants pending against them, the prosecution has sought to split the trial and hold a separate trial against Devananda. Other accused will face trial as and when they were nabbed.

In 1987, Devananda and eight other Sri Lankan Tamils were allegedly involved in a shootout at Choolaimedu in Chennai, in which a resident of the locality was killed. Though all the suspects were arrested, they absconded after they were released on bail and NBWs were issued against them. Later, denying that he was absconding, Devananda approached Madras HC for cancellation of NBW.

On September 10, 2014, he obtained an order from the high court permitting him to stand trial through video conferencing.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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