KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Thursday quashed the life sentence awarded to eight convicts in the Paul George Muthoot murder case of 2009 on the ground that conclusive evidence was lacking to prove their direct participation in the murder.
The order of the court, which dropped the murder charges against the nine, came on an appeal filed by eight of them against the order of the CBI special court in Thiruvananthapuram awarding life imprisonment to nine persons, including Kari Satheesh, second accused.
The eight are Kunnel Veetil Jayachandran, Sathar, Sujit, Akash Sasidharan, Satheesh Kumar, Rajeev Kumar, Shino Paul and Faisal. Kari Satheesh had not filed any appeal and will continue to stay in jail.
The High Court annulled the murder charges while retaining the charges of conspiracy, possession of lethal weapons and illegal gathering. Since the accused have already served the jail term under the other charges, they will be released from the jail.
CBI special court judge R. Reghu had sentenced nine out of the 13 accused to life imprisonment and a fine Rs 55,000. The rest were awarded three years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 each in September 2015.
The incident took place on the night of August 22, 2009. Paul George and another person going towards Alappuzha in a car entered into an altercation with the gang following an accident involving a two-wheeler rider. The gang members led by Jayachandran, were on their way to attack another gangster named 'Kurangu Nazeer.' In the clashes that followed, George was stabbed. Originally the case was probed by the local police before it was handed over to the CBI.
The CBI court examined 123 witnesses and 118 pieces of material evidence. The case became controversial for the remark made by senior police officials that an 'S' shaped knife was used to attack the victim. Later, the police told the court that they were misled by Kari Satheesh on the shape of the knife. The CBI team produced the actual knife allegedly used in the crime.