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    Kerala Minister’s role in evidence tampering exposed: likely to quit cabinet

    Published on July 19, 2022

    by Suresh Unnithan

    Thiruvananthapuram:  With Incriminating documents on State Transport Minister Anthony Raju’s involvement in tampering material evidence (Thondimuthal) in a three decade old drug case in public, the Left Government led by CPM strongman Pinarayi Vijayan is under siege.  If Raju is to be removed from Cabinet, he will be the second casualty in the incumbent LDF government- first one being Saji Cherian, who had to quit the government for publicly slandering the Constitution of India.

    With the Interpol report on bribing by the accused in the drug case to destroy the material evidence becoming public, Raju’s position, both political and legal, has further eroded.  In fact the accused, Salvador Sarli, a native of Australia who was apprehended in a drug case in Thiruvanathapuram 30 years back and Raju had appeared for the accused  who  was convicted by the trial court and later a higher court  acquitted him for want of proper evidence. 

    As per the convict who was later booked and jailed in a murder case in his native country has during his incarceration confessed to a convict on how he bribed a court official through the advocate to tamper with the material evidence and get a favourable verdict from a higher court. However during a reinvestigation the tampering of the material evidence was established and the charge sheet was filed 16 years ago.

    As per court records, now in public domain, Advocate Raju who appeared for the accused had received the Thodimuthal after filing a signed proper request.  After it found that the delivery of any such substance confiscated as part of the crime the concerned official was not as per procedure the concerned official asked Raju to return the thondimuthal and he returned the same marking his signature in the receiving register of the court.

     But the thondimuthal, a men’s brief worn by the accused, later on investigation found tampered. The accused was let free by the court based on the tampered brief and the tampering was masterminded by the concerned counsel to save his client, it is alleged.

    Though the charge sheet was filed 16 years back, the prosecution did take any steps to speed up the trial of the case. The court adjourned the case for over 22 times in the charge sheeted case. But now the documents against Minister Anthony Raju are in public, thanks to a regional TV news channel.

    In fact, Anthony Raju’s senior lawyer Celine Wilfrant appeared in the court on behalf of the accused. Following this, the Thiruvananthapuram Sessions Court, which heard this case, sentenced an Australian.

    Presently the debate is on the morality of Raju to continue as a minister of the state and a lawmaker.  “If Pinarayi Vijayan (Chief Minister) has left with any principle, Raju should be jettisoned from the ministry for duping the court of law for pecuniary benefits. Raju has done a disservice to the nation by saving a foreign criminal convicted in a drug case through cheating the court,” fumes an advocate.

    As per sources close to the chief minister, senior LDF leaders have expressed their displeasure in Raju continuing in the cabinet. It seems Raju will be officially asked to quit the government if he does not resign from the ministry himself.

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