'PJ Kurien was involved in Suryanelli rape case'

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 11, 2013 09:44 hrs

Thiruvananthapuram: The main accused in the Suryanelli rape case, Advocate Dharmarajan, has come out against PJ Kurien, claiming the current Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker did indeed 'spend 30 minutes at the Kumali Guest house with the Suryanelli girl'.

Dharmarajan, who is in hiding in Karnataka after jumping bail, told Kerala's Mathrubhumi news channel that this happened after Kurien arrived at the Kumali Guest house at 0630 pm on February 19 (the day the girl claimed she was raped by Kurien) in his Ambassador from nearby Vandiperiyar.

"Kurien, in fact, travelled in my ambassador car to the Kumily guest house. Why would I tell a lie?" Dharmarajan told a TV channel at an undisclosed location in Mysore.

He added that the then investigation official and present State Information Commissioner Siby Mathew had prevailed upon him not to name Kurien in the case.

However, Mathew has rubbished Dharmarajan's claims saying the latter had given his original evidence directly to the presiding judge. It has been recorded too.

"He could have said all this in the court. But now he says this to escape punishment in the case," Mathew responded to the fresh allegations made by Dharmarajan.

This new revelation comes 17 years after that and is a desperate ploy by the accused advocate, Mathew said, adding that he is only trying to muddy the waters at a time when the Kerala High Court has been told to re-examine the case.

A lawyer by profession, Dharmarajan was the only accused convicted by the Kerala High Court in 2005 while it cleared 34 others earlier held guilty by a special court that conducted trial in the case in the late 1990s.

After serving a brief jail term, Dharmarajan was freed on bail but never returned to jail. His whereabouts were unknown till he made this revelation to a TV channel here.

He also said that he would surrender in the next few days.

The sex scandal took place at Suryanelli in Idukki district January 1996. A 16-year-old was threatened, abducted and abused by a bus conductor and was later confined and sexually assaulted for 45 days by 42 men.

The victim's father said: "We are happy that this has come out. Till now, we were branded as liars by all."

The case was back in the spotlight after the Supreme Court ordered a retrial in the case Jan 31 while setting aside the acquittal in 2005 by the Kerala High Court of all but one of the 35 accused.

The issue also rocked the Kerala assembly Monday when the opposition Left demanded that a case be registered against Justice (retd.) R. Basant, who was caught on video speaking ill about the victim's character in a sting operation by a TV news channel here.

"We want Basant's name be removed from the panel list of Kerala government's counsel in the Supreme Court," said Kodiyeri Balakrishnan of the CPI-M and demanded a discussion on the issue.

Basant was one of the two judges of the Kerala High Court bench that let off all but Dharmarajan in the case in 2005.

Responding to the opposition's demand, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said: "Both your previous governments did nothing (in the case) and you (Achuthanandan) went to the extent of appointing one of the judges (who cleared the accused) to the post of a chairman."

"You are trying to politicise this. But we will only take action as per the law. One thing I can assure you of is that Basant will not represent Kerala in the Suryanelli case."

Dissatisfied by the chief minister's reply, Achuthanandan mentioned the Dharmarajan's disclosure against Kurien. He said the Congress government was only trying to save the accused in the case and led the entire opposition out of the house.

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