In a relief to the CPI(M) in Kerala, a court here today acquitted several of its local functionaries of conspiracy charge in the sensational T P Chandrasekharan murder case while finding guilty 12 accused, seven of whom carried out the brutal killing.
Special Judge R Narayana Pisharadi acquitted 24 of the 36 accused including P Mohanan, CPI(M) district secretariat member and husband of party MLA K K Lathika.
While the seven who carried out the murder were hired killers, five others found guilty included three local functionaries of the CPI-M.
The quantum of punishment is expected to be pronounced tomorrow after hearing the defence and prosecution.
Chandrasekharan, a former CPI(M) wholetimer from the red bastion of Onjiyam near Vatakara in north Kerala, was hacked to death by a gang on May 4, 2012.
He left the party a few years ago over differences with the leadership and floated a parallel outfit called Revolutionary Marxist Party. He was 51 at the time of murder and suffered 51 hack injuries on the body.
The murder had cast a shadow on the CPI(M) in the state, firmly controlled by state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan with not only rival parties but senior leaders like V S Achuthanandan using it as a weapon to attack internal foes.
Reacting to the verdict, Vijayan said it vindicated the party's stand that it had no role in the murder and exposed the bid by the UDF government and termed the case as a ploy to destroy the party by misleading the investigation.
"We have said the murder of Chandrasekharan was unfortunate. But we made it clear that we had no role in it. What has now collapsed is a script based on complete lies to malign and haunt CPI(M). The party has been cleared completely," a visibly elated Vijayan, in Delhi to attend the party's politburo meeting, told reporters.
But Achuthanandan, who did not share the joy of his fellow comrades, said in a subdued tone that he would express his views after the sentence was pronounced.
The nonagenarian leader ignored queries about the reaction from other leaders virtually endorsing the judgement.
Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, however, said the outcome of the case clearly proved the involvement of CPI(M) in the murder.
The prosecution case was that the first seven accused were engaged by a section of local CPI(M) functionaries from the party bastion of Onchiyam to commit the murder.
The three CPI(M) functionaries - Panur Area Committee member P K Kunhananthan, Kunnummakkara local committee member K C Ramachandran and Kadanganpoyil branch secretary Vadakkeyil Manojan - were convicted under IPC section 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy).
Mohanan and CPI(M) leaders K K Krishnan and Geothi Babu were found not guilty.
Unprecedented security was in place in the city and in the rural areas of the district and also in Kannur district in view of the pronouncement of judgement.
When asked about her reactions to the judgement, Mohanan's wife and CPI(M) MLA K K Lathika said she had nothing more to add than what the party leaders had said.
K K Rema, widow of Chandrasekharan, and her son Abhinand were present in the court. Rema said, "The role of CPI-M in the murder has become clear with the judgment."
Chief Prosecutor C K Sreedharan said they would go in for appeal in higher court.
Initially, police had charge-sheeted 76 people. The High Court had stayed the trial of 15 accused at a later stage from the list. Twenty two accused were acquitted on various occasions for lack of evidence. Two accused are still absconding while one accused died while the trial was progressing.
Earlier, cases were also registered against six of the accused undergoing imprisonment at the Kozhikode jail in connection with the case pertaining to the use of mobile phone inside the jail and uploading their photographs in their Facebook account.