Ex-Indian PM Gandhi’s killers to hang next month

CHENNAI, August 27, 2011 (AFP) – Three men convicted of the 1991 assassination of then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi will be hanged early next month, a senior jail official has said. The announcement late Friday that the executions would be carried out on September 9 came after India’s president rejected mercy pleas from the three men earlier this month.

If they go ahead as scheduled, the executions will be first in India since 2004, when a former security guard was hanged for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl.

“The three men have been informed about the date of the hanging,” said S. Arivudainambi, chief of the prison in the southern city of Vellore, where the convicts are being held, west of Tamil Nadu state capital Chennai.

The three men, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan — all known by one name — have now appealed to Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha to save them from the gallows.

Students and lawyers have also been protesting against the executions.

All three men belonged to Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militant group, which was accused of plotting the May 21, 1991 murder of Gandhi by a female suicide bomb