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India court blocks release of more Rajiv killers Against all principles of justice: Singh

NEW DELHI, Feb 27, (AFP): India’s top court halted the freeing of four more killers of former premier Rajiv Gandhi on Thursday after a political uproar over a state government’s plan to release all seven. The Supreme Court in New Delhi issued a temporary restraining order against releasing the four who are serving life in jail over Gandhi’s assassination in 1991 by a Tamil female suicide bomber.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week rejected the Tamil Nadu chief minister’s moves to set all seven free, saying it was against all principles of justice as the murder was “an attack on the soul of India”. The court last week blocked the release of three of the men convicted of plotting the assassination, after Singh’s comments and his government’s urgent legal action against the move.

Chief Justice P. Sathasivam issued the new order on Thursday, after hearing the government’s arguments against releasing the other four, saying he needed time to examine the issues. “There are two questions before us. The first is which is the correct government to decide on remission for these convicts and the second is whether the right procedure is being followed,” Sathasivam told the court. Rajiv Gandhi, whose widow Sonia is now president of the ruling Congress party, was targeted by Tamil Tiger separatists while he was campaigning in the southern state in May 1991 before an election.

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