Rape convict places Kurien at the scene, time of 'crime'

FP

In the most damaging testimony against P J Kurien so far, the lone convict in the Suryanelli gangrape case has said that he had taken the senior Congress leader to the guesthouse in Kumali on the day the victim says she was sexually assaulted by him there.

Advocate S S Dharmarajan, the third accused in the case, told Malayalam TV channel Mathrubhumi News in Mysore that he had taken Kurien to the guesthouse on the evening of February 19, 1996, and that the Congress leader had spent half an hour there. The girl had been raped by several persons at the guesthouse.

Dharmarajan, who was the first to rape the girl, was the only one of the 42 accused whose conviction was upheld by the high court in January 2005. However, his punishment of life term was commuted to five years by the court. Dharmarajan was on bail at the time and went into hiding. He has been missing since then.

Speaking from a hideout in Mysore, Dharmarajan told the channel he had picked up Kurien from Vandiperiyar, about 15 km away from Kumali, in his car and taken him to the guesthouse. He added that the chief investigating officer in the case, Siby Mathews, then a DIG, had compelled him not to reveal Kurien's name. "I was tortured not to divulge the name of Kurien," he said.

"Kurien contacted me through local Congress leader Jacob Stephen (the 10th accused in the case). When we (the accused) were subjected to identification parade, the same was not done for Kurien," Dharmarajan told the TV channel.

He also added that while the girl had identified Kurien later in a newspaper photo and called him "Baji", that was actually the name of another person.

According to Dharmarajan, Hindu Nair leader G Sukumaran Nair had wrongly testified that Kurien was with him the night of the assault, at the Nair Service Society office in Changanassery, to save Kurien.

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