Dharmapuri burning case: HC upholds death penalty

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Chennai, Dec 6L: The Madras High Court today upheld the death sentence awarded by a lower court to three AIADMK functionaries in the Dharmapuri Bus burning case in which three college girls were burnt to death in 2000.

Dismissing the appeals filed by the accused, Justices D Murugesan and V Periakaruppiah upheld the February 16 order of the Salem First Additional District and Sessions Judge convicting and sentencing Nedu alias Nedunchezhiyan, the then Dharmapuri town secretary of AIADMK, Madhi alias Ravichandran, MGR Forum functionary, and P Muniappan, former Panchayat President to death.

The High Court also upheld the lower court order convicting and sentencing 25 other accused to seven years rigorous imprisonment in the case.

Passing the orders on the appeals filed by the accused seeking acquittal, the High Court said the prosecution had proved the case beyond any reasonable doubt. The Judges said the eye witnesses and the circumstantial evidence also proved of the accused guilty.

On February two, 2000, the enraged AIADMK workers waylaid the Tamil Nadu Agricutlural University (TNAU) bus, in which girl students were returning to Coimbatore after an educational tour and set it ablaze, killing three students on the spot following a Special Court convicting AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa in the Kodaikanal Pleasant Stay Hotel case.

Initially, the case was tried in a Krishnagiri court. As majority of the witnesses turned hostile, one of the deceased Kokilavani's father moved the High Court seeking transfer of trial from Krishnagiri court to some other court.

The High Court shifted the case to Salem Court, where a retrial was held and culminated in the awarding of death penalty to three accused and seven years' RI to 25 others, which was upheld by the High court.

UNI

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