Three men convicted in connection with the 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi are to be hanged on the 9th of next month. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister says she has no powers to commute the death sentences. Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the tiger terrorists on 21st May 1991. Gandhi who was 40 years at that time was the youngest Prime Minister of India. Gandhi’s killing by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber shocked India. They will be hanged in the early hours of the morning, An official at the prison where the three convicts are being held in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu said they will be handed in the early hours of the 9th of next month.
The move comes after India’s president rejected mercy pleas from the men known as Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan. All three of the condemned men were members of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers militant group and were convicted of plotting the assassination. Murugan and Santhan are from Sri Lanka and Perarivalan is an Indian Tamil. The death penalty is rare in India. The last execution was in 2004 when a 41-year-old former security guard was hanged for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha Jeyaram told the Assembly today that she did not have the powers to commute the death sentence of the convicts. She emphasized that as a Chief Minister she did not have the authority to change the ruling after the President of India had rejected their mercy petition. Ms. Jayalalithaa said the Union Home Ministry in a letter on May 3, 1991 had made it clear that a State government could not exercise its power under article 161 of the Constitution after the President of the country rejected the mercy petition of a condemned person.
Meanwhile, Indian Security Forces are reported to have stepped up security at all prisons in India where LTTE suspects are being held in detention.