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Indian court orders stay on death sentence of Rajiv Gandhi assassins

(Xinhua)

16:51, August 30, 2011

MUMBAI, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Madras High Court in south India's Tamil Nadu on Tuesday ordered stay on the death sentence of three people, assassins of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, for eight weeks amid efforts to seek mercy.

The court ordered an interim stay on the death sentence after hearing petitions from the three convicts, who are scheduled to be executed on Sept. 9.

The high court will seek replies from Indian central and local state government, leaving a possibility of commutation.

Indian President Pratibha Patil rejected the mercy petitions of the three convicts on Aug. 11, after the petitions were filed more than 11 years ago.

M. Karunanidhi, chief of local political party DMK, made a statement saying that the three convicts have stayed in prison for 20 years and the proposed capital punishment should be canceled.

"Had the young leader, Rajiv Gandhi been alive today, that noble man would have definitely come forward to save the lives of Santhan, Perarivalan and Murugan," said the statement.

Tamil Nadu Assembly also adopted a unanimous resolution urging Indian president to consider review petition of the assassins.

"The stay is inconsistent with the Supreme Court judgment of 1990. The stay cannot be given if the president has given a go ahead for execution. There cannot be any pardon for anti-nationals, " said Subramanian Swamy, president of India main opposition party BJP.

Indian former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed in a suicide bombing at an election rally near Chennai, capital city of Tamil Nadu, on May 21, 1991.

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