CHENNAI: Former Sri Lankan minister Douglas Devananda is all set to stand trial before a Chennai court through video conferencing from Colombo in 28-year-old murder case.
It was in the preceding night of Diwali in 1987 that Douglas and nine other Sri Lankan Tamils were involved in a shootout at Choolaimedu in Chennai. One person was killed in the incident. Though all were arrested, they absconded after being released on bail.
Non-bailable arrest warrant was issued against Douglas who later became a minister in Rajapaksa government.
At the end of civil war in 2009, he was part of a diplomatic delegation visiting India and calling on the President and Prime Minister.
At that time it was TOI which exposed the fact that he was supposed to be an absconding accused with an NBW pending against him. But due to his diplomatic immunity, he was not arrested during the visit.
He didn’t return to India after that. However, he moved courts for cancellation of the NBW. On September 10, 2014 Justice C T Selvam of Madras high court permitted him to stand trial through video conferencing.
On Tuesday, city public prosecutor M L Japan filed a petition before additional sessions judge M Shanthi seeking to split the case and conduct trial against Douglas who has been cited as third accused in the case.
All the remaining nine accused are still absconding.
Now the case will be split and trial will be held only against Douglas. Others will face trial as and when they are nabbed and brought before the court.
In his order, Justice Selvam said Douglas should appear in the office of high commissioner of India in Colombo, Sri Lanka, for video conferencing as and when it is required.
Referring to his status and attempts made on his life, the judge said: “At every instance when the petitioner is required to appear before the trial court in person, the state shall afford him appropriate protection.”
He said: “This order is passed in the peculiar circumstances of the case given the diplomatic status and the effect execution of a non-bailable warrant issued against a minister of the neighbouring state, may entail. This order shall not be seen as a precedent.”
A Subramani,TNN |