THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The CBI Special Court has found second defendant Mohammed Ali guilty of the murder of Shyamal Mandal, a final-year engineering student at the College of Engineering Trivandrum, whose body was found abandoned near Vellar in a putrefied state about 17 years ago.
Judge K Sanilkumar said the Andaman native was found guilty of murder, kidnapping, criminal association and theft. The quantum of sentence will be announced on Wednesday. Ali is the second defendant in this case, while the first defendant, Durga Bahadur, is still at large.
The CBI’s argument was that Shyamal, a native of Andamans, was abducted by Ali and Durga on October 13, 2005 from East Fort. They demanded a ransom of Rs 20 lakh from Shyamal’s father, Basudev Mandal, who was both a government employee and a money lender in Andamans.
Basudev duly alerted the police to the extortion offer, following which a trap was set for the kidnappers. Sensing they might land in the police net, Shyamal was beheaded and the body dumped near Vellar. When the body was recovered on October 23, 2005, it was in a putrefied state.
The case was first investigated by local police and then handed over to the Crime Branch. The CBI took over the case in 2008, on the High Court’s directive after Basudev filed a motion asking for an investigation by the central agency.
During the trial, Basudev told the court that he identified his son’s body from the dress, shoes and two teeth, which were filled with amalgam. Basudev had lent Ali’s father money and through this Ali learned that he had amassed enormous wealth. To get money, Ali had hatched a plan with Durga and kidnapped the youth.
The CBI had relied on circumstantial evidence to prove the case because there were no eyewitnesses. The prosecution produced 78 physical evidence and recorded the statements of 53 witnesses.
Circumstantial evidence has become crucial
CBI prosecutor Arun K Antony said that since there were no eyewitnesses to prove Ali had kidnapped Shyamal, he had to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove the case. Statements from 53 witnesses were used to build the case. The deceased’s mobile phone was later recovered from Kesav Kumar Katwal, who was first charged. However, he was later released after finding out he had no knowledge of the murder. Katwal was also on the list of prosecution witnesses and his statements were used to fill in the missing links in the case. The Call Detail Record (CDR) from Shyamal’s phone also proved useful to the prosecution. Additionally, Shyamal’s friends at CET identified Ali as the one seen with Shyamal. Witnesses in Chennai said they saw Ali there after the crime, which also cemented the prosecution’s case.