Trial in 'sexual misconduct' case of Kerala Ex-Minister begins

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Chennai, Sep 16 (UNI) The much awaited trial in the case of alleged sexual misconduct by Former Kerala Public Works Minister P J Joseph commenced at a Magistrate Court here this morning.

The two-year-old case came up for trial before Alandur Judicial Magistrate N Ramanathan who heard Ms Lakshmi Gopakumar, the alleged victim in the case and Mr Gopakumar, her husband, who were cited as witnesses, in an in-camera proceeding.

After the in-camera proceedings, which began at 1120 hrs and lasted till 1300 hrs, the Magistrate conducted open court proceedings in which Mr Gopakumar and Mr Shaji Madhavan, who was the flight commander when the alleged incident took place, deposed.

Mr Joseph, the accused in the case, stood in silence in the court hall as the Magistrate began the open court proceedings.

When the case came up for hearing on August 12, the Magistrate, after directing the Kerala Government to produce the original report of Inspector General of Police B Sandya who inquired into the alleged misbehaviour of Mr Joseph with Ms Gopakumar, a co-traveller on a flight, fixed the trial for today.

As directed by the Magistrate, Mr F Joseph Raja, Under Secretary, Kerala Home Department, submitted the report along with seven other documents before the court.

The Magistrate on August 12 had ordered summons to four witnesses, but only three appeared before the court. Mr Samuel N Gokale,the Flight Captain, could not come to the court as he was out of country.

The prosecution case was that Mr Joseph had misbehaved with Ms Lakshmi, who travelled along with him on a Kingfisher flight from Chennai to Kochi in September, 2006.

After the incident broke out, Mr Joseph had stepped down from the Ministry and the Kerala Cabinet deputed Ms Sandya to inquire into the incident.


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