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Wednesday, 19 February 2014 - 12:53
Video : Tamil Nadu government decides to release Rajiv killers.
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The Tamil Nadu government has decided to release seven people convicted in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, including Nalini Sriharan, in a widely expected political move that is likely to set off a battle for credit ahead of the national election, due by May.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's cabinet met this morning and decided to free the convicts a day after the Supreme Court left it to the state to grant them remission.

The convicts have been in jail for 23 years.

Nalini Sriharan, the wife of convict Murugan, was granted mercy in 2000 on the intervention of Rajiv Gandhi's widow, Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The state's opposition DMK immediately said the government had acted on the court's orders, and credited their leader and Jayalalithaa's rival Karunanidhi with fighting for their release.

The top court had yesterday spared three of the convicts, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, from the death sentence, citing the 11-year delay in a decision on their mercy plea.

Three more convicts, Robert Pius, Ravichandran and Jayakumar, will also be freed.

The state government will inform the Centre of its decision and proceed with the release if there is no response in three days.

Santhan, Murugan, Perarivalan and the others were convicted in 1998 for Gandhi's assassination by a woman who greeted him with a garland and a bomb strapped to her chest during a rally in 1991.

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