Kerala custodial death: court finds two policemen guilty

The special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) here on Tuesday found two police officers guilty of torturing to death Udayakumar, 26, at the Fort police station in 2005 and three of their immediate supervisors liable for having attempted to cover up the crime by destroying evidence and fudging station records.

CBI special judge J. Nazar will announce the quantum of punishment on Wednesday.

The case had meandered through different investigative agencies and various courts for years. Its outcome was widely viewed as a milestone in Udayakumar’s ageing single mother Prabhavathi Amma’s gritty battle to bring her son’s assailants to justice. The finding was hailed as a watershed in the history of cases relating to police brutality.

Those found guilty of murder are civil police officers K. Jithakumar and S.V. Sreekumar. The judge cancelled their bail and remanded them in judicial custody.

False case

He found that the then Assistant Commissioner, Fort, T.K. Haridas, then Circle Inspector E.K. Sabu and then sub-inspector Ajith Kumar had conspired to register a false case against Udayakumar after he died in custody to justify the wrongful detention and absolve themselves of supervisory lapse. They have to appear before the court on Wednesday.

The CBI’s case was that Jithukumar and Sreekumar had apprehended Udayakumar, a scrap yard employee, and his friend Suresh Kumar from Sreekanteswaram Park around 2 p.m. on September 27, 2005, on the suspicion that they were thieves. Suresh had a criminal record, and the officers got more suspicious when they found Rs. 4,200 on Udayakumar’s person.

The CBI said the officers bound Udayakumar to a bench spreadeagled and inflicted crush injuries on his thighs to extract a confession. It later turned out that the money was his Onam festival bonus. The CBI bolstered its case by flipping six other suspect officers who were in the station when the crime happened in favour of the prosecution. The trial had its dramatic moments when Suresh, a critical prosecution witness, abruptly reversed his sworn statement that he had seen the torture. The court ordered the CBI to proceed against him on the charge of perjury. The agency relied on crime scene accounts and forensic reports to link the accused to the crime. One of the suspects, K.V. Soman, died during trial.

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