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SC acquits five Veerappan associates

By Our Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI Oct. 16. The Supreme Court today acquitted four of the seven associates of the forest brigand, Veerappan, who were awarded life imprisonment by the Special TADA Court, Mysore, and one who was awarded five years' imprisonment.

A Bench, comprising Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Justice B.N. Agrawal, ordered the acquittal of Kaliappa, Shekara, Simon and Blavendre, who were awarded life sentence and Ramu alias Raman who was awarded five years' imprisonment during the course of hearing of eight appeals filed by the convicted accused. Since only three appeals were disposed of and five are still being heard, these accused could not be released immediately.

The special judge in his judgment on September 29, 2001 while acquitting 109 accused, had sentenced seven persons to life imprisonment and one was awarded five years' imprisonment for many offences, including possession of arms without licence in the notified areas and six were released as they were incarcerated during the trial for a period longer than the punishment under the law for proven charges. All the eight filed appeals in the apex court challenging their conviction.

The Special TADA Court had tried 123 persons arrested in connection with the Ramapura police station case, the Harikrishna and Shakeel murder case, the Palar blast, and the Gopal Hosur case but convicted only seven of them.

On a petition filed by Abdul Kareem in 2000, the apex court stayed the release of some of these TADA detenus in exchange for the release of the Kannada matinee idol, Rajkumar, who was kidnapped by Veerappan in July 2000.

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