Rajiv Gandhi Assassination: Indian Court Frees Convicted Murderer AG Perarivalan

The Supreme Court invoked extraordinary powers to free AG Perarivalan, his lawyer told CNN.

Perarivalan was arrested just weeks after Gandhi was killed in a suicide bombing on May 21, 1991, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

The attack was blamed on separatist rebels fighting for a Tamil state in Sri Lanka. Gandhi’s assassination was seen as retaliation for his decision to send Indian troops to Sri Lanka in 1987 to enforce a peace agreement to end the island’s civil war.

Perarivalan, who was 19 at the time of the attack, was accused of buying batteries for the bomb. He was convicted of criminal conspiracy to commit murder, among other charges, court documents show.

He was sentenced to death in 1998 along with six others, but his sentence was reduced to life in prison in 2014.

AG Perarivalan, who was jailed for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, outside his home in Chennai on May 18.

In 2015, Perarivalan’s lawyer, K. Paari Vendhan, filed a petition for clemency, which was forwarded to the Governor of Tamil Nadu. Vendhan later filed a bail application with the Supreme Court, after not receiving a response from the governor for years.

In March this year, the Supreme Court granted Perarivalan bail for his “conduct during his long incarceration”, the educational qualifications he obtained in prison and his “poor health”, according to court documents. The court heard that the governor had forwarded the clemency petition to India’s President Ram Nath Kovind.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that it would free Perarivalan, completing his sentence under a constitutional provision that allows the court to issue an order when a case is stopped. The court found that the governor did not have the power to refer the clemency petition to the president and had not responded to the petition, Vendhan said.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Wednesday tweeted a video of him meeting and hugging Perarivalan after his release.

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