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Tuesday, October 09, 2001

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David freed from prison


By Our Staff Reporter

CUDDALORE, OCT. 8. John David, who was acquitted by the High Court of the charge of murdering Pon. Navarasu, a Chidambaram medical college student, was released from the Central Prison here today. He was received by his mother, Dr. Esther and a family-friend.

John David, a senior student, was awarded a 36-year sentence by the Cuddlore District and Sessions Judge on March 11, 1998, on the charge of having murdered his junior. But last Friday a High Court division bench observed that circumstantial evidence was not sufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt that David committed the crime.

Waving the Bible, John David told waiting presspersons ``Your pen is mightier than an ordnance and ammunition; don't spoil my life with some publicity or the other, and please let me lead my life'', he said fluttering.

Long-haired and bearded, David attributed his release to ``Lord Christ's mercy alone, and nothing else''.

Minutes before his release, Dr. Esther said David would not continue his medical education. He would perhaps opt for B.Sc or B.A. She politely pleaded with the presspersons not to raise any question about the career of David's brother. She also requested them not to pose ``too many questions to David when he comes out of the cell''. She more than once attributed the acquittal to Lord Jesus Christ's grace.

Dr.Esther said she could understand the grief of Navarasu's mother. ``When it has been a distress to me to be parted from my son all these years, I could well realise the grief that struck the bereaved family of Navarasu, particularly his mother,'' she said. ``Only a woman can understand (the sentiments of) another woman'.

Immediately after his release at 12.04 p.m., David and his mother boarded a taxi waiting outside the prison.

`A loss for society'

Our Chennai Special Correspondent reports:

Responding for the first time since the High Court verdict, the former Madras University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. P. K. Ponnuswamy, father of Navarasu, said he was too `benumbed' by the latest development. He said he did not read ``the judgment in its entirety or even through the Press,'' as he was undergoing treatment outside Tamil Nadu.

Speaking to The Hindu from a healthcare centre in Kerala, Prof. Ponnuswamy, however, noted: ``it was such a horrendous crime for which reactions came from many State Governments, which passed legislation against ragging. Had I had lost my son under circumstances of disease or accident, the loss would have been sentimental. But when it happened under such a gory circumstance...I think it was a loss for society. I do not know how to react now.''

John David, who was acquitted in the Navarasu murder case, seeking the blessings of his mother on coming out of the Cuddalore central prison on Monday.

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