Gauri Lankesh murder: Bengaluru court frames charges against 18 accused

A special court in Bengaluru through video conference on Saturday (October 30) has framed charges against 18 accused arrested in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh.

Principal City Civil and Sessions Judge Anil Bheemsen Katti in its order said “Charge for the alleged offences framed. The same was read over and explained to the accused persons in the language known to them in Marathi and Kannada, since Marathi language is known to the Presiding Officer in presence of their counsel before the court. The accused persons after having understood the same pleaded not guilty and claim to be tried. The obtaining of the signature of the accused on the certificate of charge is dispensed with since the same is recorded through V.C.”

The accused charged are Amola Khale, Parashuram Ashok Wagmore, Ganesh Miskin, Amith Ramachandra Baddi, Amit Degwekar, Bhaarat Kurane, Suresh H L, Rajesh D Bangera, Sudhavana Gondalekar and others.

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The accused have been charged under section 302, 120B, 114, 118, 109, 201, 203, 204, 35 of the Indian Penal code. Section 25 (1), 25 (1B), 27 (1) of the Arms Act and Sections 3(1) (i), 3(2), 3(3), 3(4) of the Karnataka Organised Crime Act.

By an order dated September 22, the judge had ordered that in view of the accused being placed in different jails and one or the other accused being not produced from the respective jails. Hence, framing of the charge is being deferred for one or the other reason. Hence the accused who are placed in Ballari, Tumkur, Mysuru and Shivamogga jail are ordered to be brought to the central prison, Parappana Agrahara, Bengaluru for the purpose of framing charges. The investigating officer is directed to furnish the IP address of the Arthur Jail, Bombay for arranging a video conference of the accused who are placed in Arthur Jail, Bombay.“

On September 5, 2017, journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead in front of her residence in south Bengaluru. The police have arrested 18 persons in the case. The first charge-sheet in the case was filed against Naveen Kumar on May 30. On November 23, 2018, the SIT submitted an additional 9,235-page chargesheet in the Principal Civil and Sessions court. The second chargesheet named 18 people as accused in the murder.

The A-1 to 14 and 16 to 18 submitted that they want to consult their advocates in jail and permission may be granted to their counsel to brief them before fixing the trial. The court allowed the prayer and said “In view of their submission, permission is granted to their respective counsels to meet the respective accused persons at Arthur Road Jail, Bombay, Yerwada Jail, Pune and Parappana Agrahara Jail,Bengaluru for briefing them with reference to this case.

Further, the court directed that the Parappana Agrahara J.C. is directed not to transfer any of the accused to any other prison without specific order from this court in that regard so as to conduct a smooth trial. The court has now posted the matter to December 8, for fixing date of trial.

On October 21, Supreme Court restored the charges under Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (KCOCA) against accused Mohan Nayak, allowing an appeal filed by Gauri Lankesh’s sister Kavita Lankesh. The court set aside the judgment of the Karnataka High Court which had quashed the KCOCA charges against Mohan Nayak.

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