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Sathankulam custodial deaths: 5 cops held, FIR altered to murder case
The Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department (CBCID) of Tamil Nadu police have arrested five policemen working in Sathankulam police station in Tuticorin district for the murder of P. Jeyaraj and his son J. Bennicks, officials said.
The CBCID also altered the first information report (FIR) registered on the death of Jeyaraj and Bennicks as a murder case from the earlier charge of suspicious death.
The five arrested policemen are: Inspector Sridhar, Sub-Inspectors Balakrishnan and Raghu Ganesh, Head Constable Murugan and Constable Muthuraj.
Ganesh was remanded to custody till July 16 on late Wednesday.
According to Inspector General CBCID Shankar, 12 teams have been formed to carry out the probe into the custodial death of father and son Jeyaraj and Bennicks.
Jeyaraj and Bennicks had been booked for not closing their mobile shop in time on June 19 by the Sathankulam police. They were sent to judicial custody and lodged in Kovilpatti jail on June 21.
Jeyaraj died on June 22 night and Bennicks on June 23 morning in judicial custody, allegedly due to the police torture.
The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai which took up the case suo moto had said there was prima facie evidence to register a murder case against the Sathankulam police officials.
The Kovilpatti Judicial Magistrate M.S. Bharathidasan who was asked to inquire into the case of brutal torture of AJeyaraj and his son Bennicks by the Sathankulam police on June 19 and their subsequent deaths had submitted is report to the High Court.
A woman police constable Revathy, at the Sathankulam police station, in her deposition before Bharathidasan had said that Jeyaraj and Bennicks were beaten with batons throughout the June 19 night.
According to Bharathidasan's report, Revathy also said the victims' blood stains were on the batons of the station police officials and on tables.
She said the batons and the tables should be secured so that the evidence is not lost, the report stated.
Expressing fear that she may be targeted later, Revathy was initially reluctant to sign a printout of her statement but later on being assured of her safety she signed the document.
The court also transferred the probe into the deaths of Jeyaraj and Bennicks to the Crime Branch Crime Investigation Department (CBCID) to gather and protect the evidence till the case is handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The High Court has initiated criminal contempt cases against three police officials - Additional Superintendent of Police Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police Prathapan and constable Maharajan - for their behaviour at the Sathankulam police station in front of Magistrate Bharathidasan.