Kottayam: The preliminary hearing into the abduction and death of Kevin P Joseph, a Dalit Christian youth who was allegedly murdered by his fiancee Neenu's kin, began at the additional sessions court -IV here on Wednesday.
Listing the case as an instance of 'honour killing', the charge-sheet presented by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to the court slapped murder charges against all 14 accused in the case including Neenu’s father Chacko John and brother Sanu Chacko.
Arguing that the intention of the accused was to kill the victim and not to cause him injuries, the prosecution submitted there were substantial evidences to prove it as an organised murder.
Kevin, 23, a resident of SH Mount in Kottayam, was allegedly abducted by an armed gang led by Neenu’s brother and father on May 27, 2018, two days after the couple got their marriage registered under the Special Marriage Act. His body was recovered from the Chaliakara river near Pathanapuram in Kollam district the next day.
The prosecution also demanded that the accused be charged under IPC sections 302 (murder), 364 (kidnapping for murder), 364 A (kidnapping for ransom, etc), 449 (House-trespass in order to commit offence punishable with death).
The case was posted to February 22 for hearing the defence arguments.
The prosecution produced 176 statements of witnesses, six CCTV footage, telephone call records, postmortem report, and other scientific evidence, to substantiate that the accused prima facie committed the crime.
'Gang waited till Kevin died'
The prosecution, ruling out the possibility of accidental drowning, argued that based on circumstantial evidence it could be proved that it was a case of homicidal drowning. It is hard to believe that Kevin, who knew swimming, drowned in waist-deep water in a stream. There is also concrete proof that the kidnappers, who chased Kevin to the rivulet after he escaped from their clutches, waited in the area till he died. Moreover, the autopsy report also indicated to the possibility of homicide drowning, the prosecution submitted.
The investigating team had recovered an SMS sent by Neenu’s brother Sanu to his neighbour Lijo from his mobile phone saying that 'let’s kill him (Kevin). I’m ready to do that'. Later he messaged the same person informing about Kevin’s death. Sanu had also threatened the victim’s friend Aneesh that Kevin would be killed if he refused to part ways with Neenu. So, the presumptive thought is that the abductors are the murderers, the prosecution argued.