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Auto Shankar's brother gets life imprisonment

Special Correspondent

His three life terms will run consecutively

CHENNAI: Auto Mohan, younger brother of Auto Shankar who was hanged more than a decade ago after being convicted for six murders in Chennai in 1987-88, was also found guilty of the six murders and awarded life imprisonment under each count.

A sessions court, which convicted him on Friday, however, split the sentence into three life terms and ruled that Mohan would undergo the three life terms consecutively — that is, one after the completion of the other.

In his 140-page order, the I Additional Sessions Judge, A.R. Selvakumar, convicted Mohan's associate, Selvaraj, also for three murders and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for life. In his case, the three life terms, however, would run concurrently — that is, simultaneously. No fine was imposed on both of them.

The trial of the duo had to be conducted separately as the case was split after their escape from the Chennai Central Prison in August 1990. While Mohan was re-arrested in Pune on June 25, 1992, Selvaraj was nabbed in Mumbai on August 20, 1993.

In the meanwhile, the trial of Auto Shankar and two of his associates — Eldin and Shivaji — had been completed by the Chengalpattu Sessions Court and they were sentenced to death on May 31, 1991. Five other accused in the case — Jayavelu, Rajaraman, Ravi, Palani and Paramasivam — were awarded life imprisonment. One of the accused, Babu turned approver.

Shankar was hanged to death on April 27, 1995 at the Salem Central Prison.

The prosecution arraigned 134 witnesses, which included nine Magistrates and five Inspectors of Police. The charge sheet ran to 1,100 pages, covering six major Sections of the Indian Penal Code.

The gang was rounded up and tried for the murders of Lalitha, Sudalai, Sampath, Mohan, Govindaraj and Ravi committed in a span of two years. The victims were either burnt after being killed or were buried inside residential houses.

Immediately after the delivery of the order, a composed Mohan wanted the Judge to direct the jail administration to keep him in the Chennai Central Prison as he intended to appeal against the verdict.

Selvaraj requested that he be kept in the Cuddalore Central Prison. To these requests, the Judge said that if they filed petitions, he would consider them.

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