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Execution of Veerappan aides postponed

By Vijaykumar Patil

BELGAUM, APRIL 12. The execution of four aides of the forest brigand, Veerappan, has been postponed until the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, disposes of the mercy petition filed by them.

Gnanaprakasham, Simon, Meesekara Madaiah, and Bilavendra were involved in the Palar blasts in 1993, in which 21 police personnel were killed, and are in the Hindalga Central Jail near here.

The TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act) Court in Mysore had convicted them and three other accomplices of the bandit and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The sentence in respect of the four convicts was enhanced to the death penalty by the Supreme Court on an appeal filed by them, and they were brought to the Hindalga jail under tight security on February 10.

The Hindalga Jail Superintendent, M.S. Suresh Babu, told The Hindu here on Monday, that the Mysore TADA Court had scheduled the execution of the convicts for April 16. But it was not possible to carry out the sentence on that day as the mercy petition submitted by the convicts was yet to be disposed of by the President, he said.

The execution has, therefore, been postponed as per Rule No. 773 of the Karnataka Prison Manual. Mr. Babu said that even if the President disposed of the case in a day or two, rejecting the petition, the jail authorities would have 14 days to implement the sentence. There were certain formalities to be completed after receiving communication on the President's reply to the petition, he added. The mercy petition of another convict, Praveen Kumar, who was convicted for the murder of five persons and sentenced to death, is also pending before the President. Kumar was brought here in June last.

Mr. Babu said there was no feeling of any guilt or any sign of repentance among the four. They continued to maintain that they were innocent and were not involved in the Palar blast and that they were victimised by police. They were taking food on time and were in good health. Three doctors examined them twice daily. A Christian priest visited them twice to provide them spiritual solace.

He said the wives of Bilavendra and Gnanaprakasham had visited the jail once. None of the relatives of the four had submitted a request to hand over the bodies to them in the event of their execution.

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