Trial begins in Kevin murder case; verdict within 6 months

Trial begins in Kevin murder case; verdict within 6 months
Kevin's family had alleged that the youth was abducted and killed by a gang of criminals allegedly engaged by his fiancee Neenu's relatives.

Kottayam: Preliminary hearing in Kevin murder case will begin at the District Additional Sessions Court (4) Wednesday. The case comes under honour killings, requiring a verdict within six months.

The prosecution will argue that Kevin P Joseph was killed over vendetta and caste equations after he married Neenu from another community. Those in remand are prime accused Neenu’s brother Sanu Chacko, Niyas (2nd accused), Riyas (4th), Neenu’s father Chacko (5th), Shefin Shajad (7th) and Vishnu aka Appu (10th).

Kevin P Joseph, a Dalit Christian, was abducted and killed by a gang of criminals allegedly engaged by his fiancee Neenu's relatives. His body was found in a river in Kollam district on May 28, 2018.

Crucial points

* Kevin’s autopsy revealed he drowned in Chaliyakkara River, Kollam. A higher medical board concurred with the finding.

* Statements from Neenu, Kevin’s relative Aneesh and phone conversation between Sanu and policemen are vital to the case.

* The prosecution will focus on the terrain where the incident took place to establish that Kevin’s death was indeed murder and not accident. The accused travelled 103 km with him from Kottayam. The river has forest on the one side and a 1,500-acre estate on the other.

* Images from traffic cameras are key too. A vehicle used by the accused was captured on the traffic police’s cameras on the Kodimatha four-lane when Kevin was taken to Kottayam first and then to Thenmala. The vehicle was caught speeding at 1:36am and 2.30am that day.

* The cars can be seen on other CCTV cameras too. One at a school in Mannanam and another at a house by the roadside in Chaliyakkara showing images of the Innova and Wagon R used by the accused. Their number plates had been smudged with mud to evade recognition.

* Eyewitnesses in the case also include policemen who face expulsion and disciplinary action. ASI TM Biju from Gandhinagar Station and driver Ajaya Kumar from the same station are witnesses 10 and 45, respectively. The two are under investigation for taking bribe from the accused to favour them. An internal procedure to expel Biju and restrict Ajaya’s allowances are undergoing. Their eyewitness account in the same case will be important.

14 accused

Other accused in the case are Ishaan (3), Manu Muralidharan (6), Nishad (8), Tittu Gerome (9), Fasil Sherif (11), Shanu Shajahan (12), Shinu Nasar (13), Remis (14).

Three cars used by accused, autopsy report, mobile phone data, CCTV images and 190 other documents make the prosecution’s evidence, apart from 176 eyewitnesses.

10 sections apply

Ten sections of the IPC are applied against the 14 accused; 302 – murder, that could attract 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.

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