Chennai: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court today awarded life sentences to nine people, including former Union minister M K Alagiri’s associate ‘Attack’ Pandi, for setting ablaze ‘Dinakaran’ newspaper office in 2007 and killing three employees.
The High Court convicted 16 persons in total in connection with the 2007 case. Apart from the nine persons awarded life sentences, seven other convicts were sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonment.
A division bench of justices P N Prakash and B Pugalendhi delivered the judgment today.
Among those given life imprisonments are ‘Attack’ Pandi (the main accused), Arogya Prabhu, Vijaypandi, Kandasamy, Ramaiah Pandi, Sudhakar, Tirumurugan, Roopan and Malik Basha.
The court has further ordered the Tamilnadu government to offer a solatium of Rs 5 lakh to the families of the three persons – Vinod, Gopinath and Muthuramalingam- who were killed in the gruesome attack.
The conviction comes 12 years after the Madurai office of the Tamil daily was attacked, which led to the death of three of their staff. After a series of accusations and twists in the investigations, the case was transferred from the CB-CID to CBI.
The CBI named 17 persons in its chargesheet including the then deputy superintendent of police.
In December 2009, all 17 were acquitted by the district sessions court as the case had reportedly not been proven beyond all reasonable doubt. In March 2011, the Madras High Court allowed an appeal challenging this decision of the CBI.
Today, 12 years after the initial chargesheet was filed, the Madras High Court has delivered its verdict.
During the course of the case, Saravana Muthu, an accused had died. The High Court has also ordered Rajaram, a retired DSP convicted in the case, to appear before the bench 25 March to receive the quantum of sentence.
The case dates back to 2007 when the newspaper owned by the Sun Group headed by Kalanithi Maran, published a survey stating that M K Stalin was the preferred heir to then DMK president M Karunanidhi and that his brother Alagiri’s popularity was just 2 per cent.