KOTTAYAM: The additional sessions court on Wednesday approved the charge sheet submitted by the police in the abduction and murder case of Kevin P Joseph and framed charges against all 14 persons accused in the case.
Judge KG Sanal Kumar has found enough evidence to frame the charges of murder against the accused.
The charge sheet describes the attack as an honour killing. It also listed the death as a case of homicidal drowning, amounting to intentional killing.
Murder charges have been slapped against all 14 accused and ten sections of the IPC are applied against them.
The sections are, 302-murder, that could attract the death penalty, 364(A) -kidnapping for ransom, 120(B)-conspiracy, 449-house-trespass, 321-voluntarily causing hurt, 342-wrongful confinement, 506(2)-criminal intimidation, 427-mischief causing loss, 201-destruction of evidence and 34-furtherance of common intention.
The accused are Neenu’s brother Sanu Chacko (1st accused), Niyas (2nd), Ishaan (3rd), Riyas (4th), Neenu’s father Chacko (5th), Manu Muralidharan (6th), Shefin Shajad (7th), Nishad (8th), Tittu Gerome (9th), Vishnu aka Appu (10), Fasil Sherif (11), Shanu Shajahan (12), Shinu Nasar (13), and Remis (14).
Neenu’s brother Shanu Chacko is the prime accused and his father Chacko is the fifth.
According to charges filed against 12 others, it is said that the accused had chased Kevin and drove him into the river.
The prosecution submitted 186 witnesses’ statements and 190 documents based on this case. It includes three cars used by accused, autopsy report, mobile phone data, CCTV visuals.
On November 7, last year, the Kottayam Additional Sessions Court had declared that Kevin P Joseph was a case of honour killing.
On October 29, last year, a special public prosecutor C S Ajayan had filed the petition in the court and the Court accepted the prosecution arguments and plea. The court also instructed the counsel to complete the trial within six months.
If the case is considered as an honour killing, then the trial will have to be done on a day-to-day basis and will have to be completed within six months.
Meanwhile, the defendant’s side had argued that it should not be considered as honour killing as both the parties are Christian.
However, the probe team had found that the victim is a Dalit Christian and the accused have resorted to racial abuse.
SIT had arrived the conclusion on the basis of the statement given by Aneesh Sebastian, Kevin’s cousin, who was also abducted.
As per statements of Aneesh, Kevin escaped from the gang around 4.45 am on May 27. Though the gang members roamed the area for two to three hours searching for Kevin, they could not find him and hence they left the place by 8 am. In the meantime, Kevin might have fallen in the water.
The charge sheet listed his death as a case of homicidal drowning, amounting to intentional killing.
The charge sheet said that Kevin, a Dalit Christian from Kottayam, was kidnapped and murdered by a group sent by Sanu Chacko, in separate vehicles just days after Kevin moved papers to marry the former’s sister Neenu Chacko. Later Kevin’s body was found in a river near Thenmala on May 28.
Earlier his family had alleged that laxity on the part of the local police in taking action on a man missing complaint filed by Neenu had resulted in the death of the Kevin.
Kevin had register marriage with Neenu Chacko from Thenmala on May 25, as the girl’s comparatively better-off family had violently objected to the marriage.
The Dalit background of the victim, financial disparity between the families had led to the murder.
On February 13, the Kottayam Additional Sessions Court had started preliminary hearing in the murder case of 24-year-old Kevin P Joseph who had been annihilated by his wife’s relatives.
During the preliminary hearing, prosecution lawyer C.S. Ajayan had pointed out that the possibility of an accidental drowning should be ruled out as there was little chance for the victim, who knew swimming, to drown in deep water in the stream.
Instead, there was strong circumstantial evidence for homicidal drowning. The Thiruvananthapuram Medical College forensic team also supported the opinion.
The court will consider the case on March 20 for scheduling of the final trial.