Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi: Indian court frees convicted murderer A. G. Perarivalan

The Supreme Court exercised emergency powers to release A. G. Perarivalan, his lawyer told CNN.

Perarivalan was arrested weeks after Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber on 21 May 1991 in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

The attack was blamed on separatist rebels fighting for the Tamil state in Sri Lanka. Gandhi’s assassination was seen as retribution for his decision to send Indian troops to Sri Lanka in 1987 to enforce the peace deal and end the island’s civil war.

Perarivalan, who was 19 at the time of the attack, was accused of buying batteries for the bomb. He was convicted of criminal conspiracy to commit murder, among other charges, court documents show.

He was sentenced to death in 1998 along with six others, but in 2014 his sentence was reduced to life imprisonment.

In 2015, Perarivalan’s attorney K. Paari Vendhan filed a petition for clemency, which was given to the Governor of Tamil Nadu. Vendhan later applied for bail to the Supreme Court after receiving no response from the governor for many years.

Perarivalan was released on bail by the Supreme Court in March of this year for his “conduct during his long detention,” the education he received in prison, and his “poor health,” according to court documents. The court learned that the governor had conveyed a request for clemency to Indian President Ram Nath Kovind.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Perarivalan be released, overturning his sentence in accordance with a constitutional provision that allows the court to issue a ruling when a case is suspended. According to Vendhan, the court found that the governor did not have the authority to submit a request for clemency to the president and did not respond to the request.

Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. K. Stalin on Wednesday tweeted video of him meeting and hugging Perarivalan after being released.

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