Chennai court rejects Lankan minister's plea in murder case

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Chennai, Oct 18: A court here on Thursday dismissed Sri Lankan Minister Douglas Devananda's petition seeking exemption from his personal appearance before it in connection with a 1984 murder case. Rejecting the plea, Additional Sessions Judge S Rajagopalan held that the presence of the petitioner was essential in order to identify him.

Police had told the court that the first accused in the case Anandan was arrested in 1986. Now the petitioner claims that he is the said Anandan and is presently known as Douglas Devananda and is holding a constitutional post. They said they were not sure as to the identity of the petitioner and hence insisted on his presence to properly identify him.

Devananda, Minister for Traditional Industries in Sri Lanka, was allegedly involved in a murder here in 1986 and was later declared a proclaimed offender. The murder case is related to the death of a city resident in a gunfire from the EPRLF office here in 1986. Devananda, arrested and released on bail then, had been declared a proclaimed offender by a sessions court in 1994 after the former EPRLF leader and the others jumped bail in 1987.

Devananda had moved the additional sessions court on Sept 1 to recall non-bailable warrant issued against him. He had claimed that his life was still in danger from LTTE 'sleeper cells' both in Sri Lanka and abroad and his visit to Tamil Nadu to appear in connection with the case would create a law and order problem here. He had prayed that his personal appearance before the court in Chennai be dispensed with.

Judge Rajagopalan said identification as pinpointed by the prosecution was a must in this case in order to confirm the identity of the present petitioner as his name was defined only Anandan in the charge and not as Anandan alias Douglas Devananda. He also noted that as pointed by the respondent Devananda was not let out on regular bail.


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