8 accused in business scion Paul Muthoot’s murder to walk free, acquitted of murder

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8 accused in business scion Paul Muthoot’s murder to walk free, acquitted of murder

The Kerala High Court on Thursday cancelled the life term awarded by a CBI court in 2015 to eight accused in the Paul Muthoot murder case.

On August 21, 2009, Paul George Muthoot, then 32, was killed under mysterious circumstances near Alappuzha while travelling in a car with Om Prakash and Rajesh - two men who are accused in several criminal cases.

While eight accused were acquitted of murder, one of them -- Kari Satheesh -- had failed to file his appeal at the High Court against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court judgement which sentenced them to life term.

Satheesh was the one who had stabbed Paul Muthoot and had publicly admitted it.

While the High Court has acquitted all the eight convicts of murder charges, a few other charges will stand. These charges vary from voluntarily causing hurt to wrongful restraint. But with all of them having served more than nine years in prison, they are expected to walk out of the jail.

The scion of the Muthoot M George group, Paul was brutally murdered when he was travelling through Alappuzha in Kerala.  The CBI court in 2015 found 13 out of the 14 accused guilty of murder and conspiracy. The court found Kari Satheesh, the main accused, and nine others to be guilty of murder, while others were found guilty of conspiracy.

Later, an investigation by the CBI proved that Paul Muthoot, who had been partying hours before his death in a resort at Chambakulam with two men, had later driven in an SUV to another resort.

While driving, a group of assailants who were on their way for another contract killing witnessed Paul ramming into a motorcycle.

The assailants chased him and questioned him about the accident which led to a war of words between the two groups, eventually ending with Kari Satheesh stabbing Paul to death.

With the court cancelling the life sentence, Jayachandran, Sathar, Sujith, Akash Sasidharan, Satheesh Kumar, Rajeev Kumar, Shino Paul and Faizal will walk out of jail now.

Paul's father, M. George Muthoot, and the chairman of the Muthoot group, said he will approach the Supreme Court against the High Court's verdict.

Paul belonged to the wealthy Muthoot business family which is into private banking and has numerous other business ventures.

The murder mystery was first investigated by the police and later transferred to the Crime Branch which arrested 14 people.

Later, Paul's father sought a CBI probe. The central probe agency took up the case in January 2010 and the CBI court in the state capital on September 1, 2015, sentenced all the accused to life term.

The motive for the crime, according to the investigating agency, was the intervention and altercation by the accused after Paul's speeding vehicle knocked down a two-wheeler near Alappuzha.

The accused and his group of men who saw this followed Paul and stopped his vehicle and after a verbal altercation, stabbed him to death.

The probe team also found that the gang was on their way to eliminate another person when they picked up the quarrel with Paul that resulted in the murder.

Detailed history of the case

The murder of Paul Muthoot George by a group of men travelling in a tempo traveller had captured the public attention in Kerala for quite some time.

The murder mystery was first investigated by the police and later transferred to the Crime Branch which arrested 14 people.

In January 2010, the case was transferred to CBI following a petition filed by his father, George Muthoot in the Kerala High Court. The CBI had then filed two charge sheets in the case, one for killing Paul and other for destruction of evidence.

According to the CBI's charge sheet, accused Jayachandran, a goonda leader from Changanaserry and second accused Kari Satheesh had stabbed Paul on that day following a sudden provocation. Seven of the accused turned approvers in the case.

In 2009 Satheesh had told the media publicly that he was the one who had killed Paul. But there were allegations that the goondas were acting on someone else's behest and was the murder was a pre-planned conspiracy.

The most crucial names related to the case were the men who Paul George had partied with, Om Prakash and Puthampalan Rajesh, who were the 24th and 25th accused in the police case. The two men who were already on the police's wanted list for other crimes were made witnesses by the CBI as they had been travelling with Paul at the time of murder.

Even after the CBI probe, many other allegations surfaces, big names in politics and the movie industry were linked to the murder. But the CBI investigation proved that the young businessman was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and was a victim of road rage.

The Muthoot group is multi crore conglomerate which is into gold loans, hospitality and stockbroking.

(With inputs from IANS)