Erode: Nine associates of slain forest brigand Veerappan were acquitted by a court in Tamil Nadu's Erode area in a case related to the abduction of Kannada superstar late Rajkumar 18 years ago, holding that the prosecution has not proved the charges against them.
Gobichettipalayam Additional Sessions Judge K Mani also said the deposition of witnesses did not corroborate the prosecution case fully.
As many as 47 witnesses were examined in the case related to the sensational kidnap of the Kannada thespian.
According to the prosecution, Veerappan and his 14 associates kidnapped Rajkumar from his farmhouse in Dhodda Gajanure village in Tamil Nadu on 30 July, 2000 at gunpoint. The actor was in captivity for over 100 days in jungles spread across Western Ghats abutting Thalawady near here, leading to tension in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and further straining the ties between the two states. After 108 days, Veerappan released the actor.
On a complaint from Rajkumar's wife, a case was registered against Veerappan and his associates under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including those related to conspiracy, and kidnapping, besides for offences under the Arms Act.
Veerappan, a dreaded criminal involved in several killings and sandalwood and ivory smuggling, was shot dead near Dharampuri in October 2004 along with three of his men, wanted in the actor kidnap case, by the personnel of the Special Task Force set up to nab him.
While one more accused died later, another is absconding till date. The remaining nine accused were arrested and later enlarged on bail.
When the judgement was pronounced, all the accused, except Puttusamy (who absented himself on health grounds), were present in the court. A heavy posse of police personnel was deployed around the court premises.
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Updated Date: Sep 26, 2018 08:03:46 IST