Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
-
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

Home Whats New  Trans State Nation  One World Unfolding Consciousness Comments Search

Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > International Frame of  Struggle for Tamil Eelam  > India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam  > Rajiv Gandhi Assassination - the Verdict >Who really killed Rajiv Gandhi? - Norman Baker  1992 >  Rajiv Gandhi - the Secret Trial - Nadesan Satyendra, 1992 > Rajiv Gandhi's Assassination: Transnational Connections - Major General  Asfir Karim, 1993 > Rajiv Gandhi Assassination: Highlights of Complex Plot, India Today Report, 1996 > Jain Commission Report on Rajiv Gandhi Assassination 1997 > Prabhu Chawla on Jain Commission Report, 1997 > India's lack on grit on Tamil Tigers led to Rajiv assassination says Jyotindra Nath Dixit, 1997 > Who killed Olof Palme and Rajiv Gandhi?, 1997 > International appeals against verdict in Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Trial, 1998/99 > Accused in Rajiv case not given fair Trial - Law Committee, 1999  > Triumph of Truth The Rajiv Gandhi Assassination The Investigation, by D.R.Kaarthikeyan and Radhavinod Raju - Book Review by Sachi Sri Kantha, 2004

India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam

International Appeals against Verdict
in Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Trial - 1998/99

bullet Amnesty Urgent Action Appeal on Death Sentence - 29 January 1998
bullet Tamil Information Centre Appeal for Commutation of Death Sentence - 8 October 1999
bullet Amnesty Urgent Action Appeal - Fear of Imminent Execution - 13 October 1999
bullet Tamil Information Centre - Public Statement - 14 October 1999


Amnesty Urgent Action Appeal 29 January 1998
- External AI Index: ASA 20/02/98 UA 32/98

"...Amnesty International is concerned that 26 people sentenced to death by a special court in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on 28 January 1998  may not have received a fair trial according to international standards for  fair trial .. Twenty-four men and women - 15 Sri Lankan and nine Indian nationals - were found guilty of conspiracy to murder the former Prime Minister of India,  Rajiv Gandhi. ..Mr Gandhi was killed by a bomb explosion in Tamil Nadu in May 1991. The legislation under which they were tried - the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) - contravenes several international  standards for fair trial, including the holding of trials in camera and the non-disclosure of the identity of witnesses.  In addition, although the  majority of those accused were arrested in July 1991, a charge sheet was not drawn up until May 1992 and a preliminary trial did not begin until May 1993.  The trial itself took place in January 1994 in the Poonamallee jail in Madras, designated a special court under TADA, where many of those sentenced had been detained for almost seven years since arrest. .."

INDIA:   S Nalini(f) 33 Perarivalan, 24 K Dhanasekharan, 55  A Athirai(f) 23 Kanagasabapathy, 76 Ranganath, 53  S Bhagiyanathan, 31 S Padma(f) 56 Subha Sundaram, 50  Murugan, 28 Shankar, 30 Irumborai, 35  D Vijayanandan, 47 Sivaruban, 26 Ravichandran, 30  Vicky, 33 Rangan, 30 Suseendran, 27  Santhan, 28 Robert Payas, 31 Bhaskaran, 65  S Jayakumar, 30 Shanthi(f) 30 P Vijayan, 32  V Selvalakshmi(f)31 Shanmugavadivelu, 53

Amnesty International is concerned that 26 people sentenced to death by a special court in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on 28 January 1998  may not have received a fair trial according to international standards for  fair trial and that the judge involved indicated the sentences were handed  down for deterrent purposes.

Twenty-four men and women - 15 Sri Lankan and nine Indian nationals - were found guilty of conspiracy to murder the former Prime Minister of India,  Rajiv Gandhi. A further two Indian nationals were found guilty of murder.  Mr Gandhi was killed by a bomb explosion in Tamil Nadu in May 1991.

The legislation under which they were tried - the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) - contravenes several international  standards for fair trial, including the holding of trials in camera and the non-disclosure of the identity of witnesses.

In addition, although the  majority of those accused were arrested in July 1991, a charge sheet was not drawn up until May 1992 and a preliminary trial did not begin until May 1993. The trial itself took place in January 1994 in the Poonamallee jail in Madras, designated a special court under TADA, where many of those sentenced had been detained for almost seven years since arrest.

Under TADA, the accused are only able to appeal to the Supreme Court whereas under normal law they would have the right to appeal to the High Court before moving to the Supreme Court. Amnesty International is also concerned that one of the accused, Ms A Athirai, is reported to have been only 17 years old at the time of her arrest in July 1991. Article 6(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child state that sentence of death should not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.

Amnesty International unconditionally opposes the use of the death penalty as a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to  cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In a resolution adopted  in April 1997, the UN Commission on Human Rights called on all states that have not yet abolished the death penalty "to consider suspending executions, with a view to completely abolishing the death penalty". The Indian Constitution protects the right to life. India's highest courts have ruled  that the death penalty can only be applied in the "rarest of the rare" cases. Yet on average a dozen executions are carried out in India every year for criminal offenses. Most of those executed are the poor and illiterate.

Amnesty International is deeply concerned at the sentence of death handed down to 26 men and women on 28 January 1998, following a trial which Amnesty International believes may not have conformed to international standards for fair trial. Amnesty International urges that, in hearing the appeal, the Supreme Court of India should examine the trial and sentencing in the light of India's obligations under the ICCPR. Amnesty remains unconditionally opposed to the use of the death penalty in all cases, as a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It should also be noted that the death penalty has never been  shown to have a special deterrent effect. 


Tamil Information Centre Appeal for Commutation of Death Sentence - 8 October 1999 - TIC INDEX:UA/October 99

India's Supreme Court has dismissed the review petition of the four persons who were sentenced to death in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's murder case.

"All review petitions are dismissed," announced the three-judge bench in its ruling, leaving the three men and one woman only an appeal to the President for clemency as a final resort.

On 11 May 1999, the Apex court confirmed the death sentences of four of the 26 people convicted of conspiring to Kill Rajiv Gandhi at an election rally in the southern state of Tamil Nadu in May 1991. At the same time, it commuted the sentences of three other people to life imprisonment and further ordered the release of 19 people.

The four accused, S Nalini, Suthenthirarajah alias Santhan, Sriharan alias Murugan and Perarivalan alias Arivu, were originally to be hanged on June 9, but the execution was deferred after they filed a review petition to the Supreme Court.

The Tamil Information Centre (TIC) appeals to the President of India for clemency for, S Nalini, Suthenthirarajah, Sriharan and Perarivalan, taking into consideration the acquittal of the four by the Supreme Court of offences under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) and end the use of death penalty in India.

The TIC also wishes to express its concern that the confirmation of death sentences followed a trial under TADA, a law that has been widely criticised nationally as well as internationally for its provisions that denied the right to a fair trial and which has now lapsed. The death sentence to the 26 people in January 1998 is said to have been based on the presumption that it would serve as a deterrent.

International standards have also developed in such a way as to exclude more and more categories of people from those against whom the death penalty might be used in countries which have not abolished it. The exclusion of "new mothers" is widely observed in practice. Nalini is a new mother having given birth while in prison.

While considering death penalty as an inhuman punishment, constitutes a serious threat to the enjoyment of the right to life and should have no place in the penal systems of modern civilised societies, the Tamil Information Centre wishes to encourage you to send faxes and letters to:

President K R Narayanan
Office of the President
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi 110 001, India
Fax: 00 91 11 301 7290

To commute the death sentences passed on S Nalini, Suthenthirarajah, Sriharan and Perarivalan, indicating Nalini's position as a new mother.

2. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
South Block Gate No. 6
New Delhi 110 001
India
Fax: 00 91 11 301 9817


To abolish the death penalty as recommended by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/8 of 3 April 1998, expressing that the death penalty violates the right to life.

3. In addition, to diplomatic representatives of Indian government accredited to your country.


4. Send Copies to:

Ms Mary Robinson
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palai des Nations, 8-14 avenue de la Paix
CH 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: 00 41 22 9170213                       


Tamil Information Centre
720 Romford Road
London
E12 6BT

E-mail:[email protected]
Telephone:     + 44(0) 181 514 6390
Fax:        + 44(0) 181 514 0164


Amnesty Urgent Action Appeal - 13 October 1999 -  External AI Index: AI Index: ASA 20/34/99 

S Nalini (f) 34
Murugan, 29
Santhan, 29
Perarivalan, 25

Amnesty International fears that S Nalini, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan are in danger of imminent execution after the Supreme Court of India dismissed a review petition filed by them on 8 October 1999. Their only chance now lies with an appeal for clemency with the President who will make a decision after taking advice from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

They were originally scheduled to be executed on 9 June but this was deferred when they filed the review petition to the Supreme Court.

The four were sentenced to death in January 1998, together with 22 others, for murder and conspiracy to murder the former Prime Minister of India, Mr Rajiv Gandhi, in 1991. Mr Gandhi was killed by a bomb explosion in Tamil Nadu in May 1991. The other 22 had their sentences quashed or commuted on appeal. Amnesty International believes they did not receive a fair trial according to international standards for fair trial.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally as an extreme form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a violation of the right to life, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.

The Indian Constitution protects the right to life. India's highest courts have ruled that the death penalty can only be applied in the 'rarest of rare' cases. Because this is not further defined and no clear guidelines exist, this means that the use of the death penalty in India depends to a large extent on how individual judges interpret this phrase. On average a dozen executions are carried out in India every year for criminal offenses. Most of those executed are the poor and illiterate.

FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in English or in your own language:

- expressing concern at the Supreme Court's decision to turn down the review petition filed by S Nalini, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan;

- urging the President to exercise his power of clemency under Article 72 of the Constitution of India to commute the death sentences;

- expressing unconditional opposition to the death penalty as a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and emphasising that the death penalty has never been shown to have a special deterrent effect;

- reminding the authorities of the United Nations (UN) Commission on Human Rights' recommendation that governments hold a moratorium on executions;

- urging them also, in the light of positive steps being taken worldwide to abolish the death penalty, to commute all outstanding death sentences and take steps to remove the death penalty from all legislation.

APPEALS TO:

Mr K. R. Narayanan President of India Office of the President Rashtrapati Bhavan New Delhi 110 004, India Telegrams: President, New Delhi, India Faxes: + 91 11 301 7290 Salutation: Dear President Narayanan

Minister of Home Affairs Ministry of Home Affairs North Block, New Delhi 110 001, India Telegrams: Minister Home Affairs, New Delhi, India Faxes: + 91 11 301 5750 Salutation: Dear Minister

COPIES TO: Justice A S Anand Chief Justice of India Supreme Court of India Tilak Marg New Delhi 110 001 India and to diplomatic representatives of India accredited to your country


Tamil Information Centre - Public Statement - 14 October 1999 - TIC INDEX:PS/October 99

Appealing for clemency and calling for an end to the Death Penalty is the right thing to do.

The Tamil Information Centre (TIC) made an appeal on 8 October 1999, for clemency and commutation of the death sentence on four people in the Rajiv Gandhi murder case. The TIC's appeal for clemency was in furtherance of a commitment to the value and dignity of human life and the belief that human life is sacred. In this respect, the killing of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and 16 others including nine police officers in Sriperumpudur in Tamil Nadu in India on 21 May 1991 was equally callous and cruel and the offenders deserve to be punished.

The TIC views the imposition of the death penalty as involving both, "profound legal and political questions" as well as "important moral issues." The TIC appeal was only a reflection of the moral and legal questions that trouble many. It is our view that in confronting the problem of serious and violent crime in our societies, we must bear in mind that crime is both a manifestation of the great mysteries of evil and human freedom and an aspect of the very complex reality that is contemporary society. We cannot and should not expect simple or easy solutions to what is a profoundly cruel, and even less should we rely on the death penalty to provide such a solution. Rather, we must look to other means for claims of justice.

While accepting that it is morally unsatisfactory and socially destructive for offenders to go unpunished, we believe that the forms and limits of punishment must be determined by moral objectives which go beyond the mere inflicting of injury or taking one's life. We should be aware that inflicting the death penalty is irrevocable in a way that other punishments are not. Execution of innocent persons should be avoided at all cost. We further believe that the forms of punishment must be determined with a view to the protection of the society and its members and also to reform offenders and reintegrate them into society, though we do agree that this may not be possible in certain cases.

While accepting that the Indian government has the right to take appropriate measures to protect itself and its citizens from grave harm, nevertheless, the question for judgement and decision today is whether the death sentence is justifiable under present circumstances. We believe that such a punishment might satisfy certain vindictive and political desires, but the satisfaction of such desires is not and cannot be an objective of a humane approach to punishment.

Legally, concerns have been raised by numerous civil and human rights institutions both within and outside India on the conduct of the case under the notorious Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act popularly known as TADA which came into force in 1985. The Act was severely criticised for its draconian nature and on such recognition finally was allowed to lapse by the Indian government in 1995.

It should be noted that not only the Tamil Information Centre but also several other national and international human rights organisations have appealed for commutation of the death sentences and end the use of the death penalty in India.

Amnesty International has pointed out in its appeal that the imposition of the death sentence is a retrograde step for human rights in India, while positive steps are being taken worldwide towards abolition and in view of the call by the UN Human Rights Commission for a moratorium on executions. Amnesty International has expressed concern that while Nalini, Murugan, Perarivalan and Santhan were acquitted by the Supreme court of offences under the Tada, the court failed to consider the incompatibility of certain provisions of TADA with the international standards for fair trial when it held that their trial under those provisions should not be called into question.

To confirm sentences of death after a trial held under provisions of a law which has now lapsed following widespread criticism from national and international human rights bodies that it denied the right to a fair trial, is manifestly unsound. This is the view held by many organisations including Amnesty International. The lawyers representing the accused have constantly argued that the state machinery was guilty of suppressing evidence favorable to the accused, deceiving the trial court and knowingly using perjured testimony.

The death penalty, like in Rajiv Gandhi's murder case, is also advanced as a justifying objective of punishment since it serves as a deterrent for others. Empirical studies in this area have not given any conclusive evidence that would justify the imposition of the death penalty as a means of preventing others from committing crime. There are strong reasons to doubt that many crimes of violence are undertaken in a spirit of rational calculation which would be influenced by a remote threat of death and so undercuts the effectiveness of the deterrent. The protection of society and its members from violence to which the deterrent effect of punishment is supposed to contribute, is a central value of abiding importance. It requires prudent firmness and not taking of life in legitimate self-defense or in defense of society.

We maintain that commuting the death sentences of the four and the abolition of the death penalty in India would promote values that are important to us, the citizens of India and the world community. It is appropriate here to say that by unique historic tradition and great achievements, particularly in the fields of religion, literature and philosophy, India has always shone as a beacon and many the world look to India for moral guidance.

We believe that the abolition of death penalty will confirm that we need not take life for life, that we can envisage more humane and more hopeful and effective responses to such violent crimes. It is a manifestation of our freedom as moral persons striving for a just society. It is also a challenge, as concerned individuals to find ways of dealing with gross human rights abuses that manifest intelligence and compassion rather than power and vengeance.

We do not propose the abolition death penalty as an easy and simple solution to the problems of violence. But as we have stated above, we do not believe that any simple and comprehensive solution is possible. We affirm that killing is wrong and all acts of violence need to be condemned when it destroys lives, shatters families, and crushes the hopes of the innocent. There is a special need to offer sympathy and redress for the victims of violence and their families. But, recognition of this sympathy and support should not lead to demands for vengeance, but to a firm resolution to offer help to the victims and that justice is done fairly and swiftly.

We call on those who have taken "an eye for an eye" and, " a life for a life" views in response to the TIC appeal, to review their considerations in light of what we have said and appeal to the President of India to commute the sentences passed on S Nalini, Suthenthirarajah, Sriharan and Perarivalan. There is no doubt that participation in the appeal for clemency and abolition of the death sentence would contribute to justice, positive changes in procedures and strengthening of humanitarianism in conformity with the traditions of India.

 

 

Mail Us Copyright 1998/2009 All Rights Reserved Home