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S Santhan, freed convict in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case dies from prolonged illness

Santhan was lodged at the Special Camp in November 2022 after the Supreme Court ordered his release along with that of five others, including S Nalini and Murugan. Another convict, A G Perarivalan, was released in May 2022.
Last Updated 28 February 2024, 03:37 IST

Chennai: S Santhan, one of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case who was released by the Supreme Court in 2022, died on Wednesday following a prolonged illness.

Santhan, a 55-year-old Sri Lankan national who was to be deported to his home country, was admitted to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGH) on January 27 for liver failure and was diagnosed with cryptogenic cirrhosis.

Santhan was lodged at the Special Camp for Foreigners in Tiruchirapalli ever since his release from jail in November 2022. The proposal to deport him to his country was approved recently.

Santhan, a sympathiser of now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), is one of the four Sri Lankan nationals who served jail terms in the Rajiv Gandhi case.

“Santhan, who was in the hospital for about a month, passed away Wednesday morning. His mortal remains will be flown to Sri Lanka after following due procedure,” the deceased’s lawyer, Pugalendhi, said.

The Supreme Court had in November 2022 ordered the release of Santhan along with five others, including S Nalini and Murugan. Another convict, A G Perarivalan, was released in May 2022, after the court invoked Article 142.

Of the seven convicts, Santhan, Murugan, Robert Payas, and Jayakumar are from Sri Lanka while Nalini, Perarivalan, and Ravichandran are from India.

All the seven were sentenced to death along with 19 others in 1998 by a special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court in Poonamallee.

However, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence to Nalini, Perarivalan, Santhan, and Murugan, but commuted the sentence to life in jail for Ravichandran, Robert Payas, and Jayakumar and released 19 others. In 2022, the Supreme Court released all seven convicts.

The issue of the release of seven convicts is a highly emotive issue in Tamil Nadu with almost all political parties – barring Congress and BJP – endorsing the decision of the AIADMK government in 2018 to release them.

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by LTTE suicide bomber at Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991, before he was to address an election rally.

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(Published 28 February 2024, 03:37 IST)

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