14 held guilty of thrashing Kerala man to death in 2018
Madhu’s mother Malli, who faced threats and prompted the Kerala high court to supervise the trial in the case, said she was not satisfied with the verdict
A special court on Tuesday held 14 men guilty of thrashing a 27-year-old mentally ill tribal man to death after tying him to a tree over allegations of theft at Attapadi in Kerala’s Palakkad in February 2018.
Madhu’s mother Malli, who faced threats and prompted the Kerala high court to supervise the trial in the case, said she was not satisfied with the verdict and will file an appeal after consulting the prosecutor.
The 14 were held guilty of voluntarily causing hurt, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, and under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Two of the accused were acquitted for want of evidence.
Activist PE Usha said there was clear-cut evidence but the murder charges were not pressed.
According to his post-mortem report, Madhu, who led a solitary life in caves and forests, suffered 48 injuries and internal bleeding.
During the trial, three public prosecutors were changed and Malli was forced to seek protection from the threats she faced. Special judge KM Ratheesh Kumar said the quantum of the sentence will be pronounced on Wednesday.
There were 129 witnesses in the case and 24 of them, including some of Madhu’s relatives, turned hostile during the trial that began in April last year. In August, the trial court cancelled the bail of some accused after the witnesses turned hostile.
The prosecution argued a group of people captured Madhu from a cave in a forest and forcibly took him to Attapadi accusing him of stealing food items from nearby shops. With his hands tied, he was forced to walk around five km and assaulted. He was handed over to the police but succumbed to his injuries.
The defence argued Madhu died due to police torture in custody. The accused provided most of the digital evidence in form of videos showing Madhu being taken from the forest. Some of the accused took selfies with the bleeding Madhu while saying a “habitual thief” has been caught finally.
Governor Arif Mohammad Khan and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier met Malli and promised all help. One of Madhu’s sisters, Chandrika, joined the Kerala Police in 2019.