Breather for P.J. Kurien as convict retracts claim

Idukki (Kerala), May 29 (IANS) Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson P.J. Kurien Wednesday got a breather when a convict in the Suryanelli sex scandal case retracted his earlier statement in a Kerala court and said he never met the Congress leader.

Jailed convict Dharmarajan, a lawyer by profession, filed a four-page affidavit in the Idukki district sessions court and said all his earlier statements related to meeting Kurien were false.

"I have never met Kurien and I had earlier stated that he travelled along with me in my car. This is not true and I made this statement earlier when I was under the influence of alcohol and I was advised that if I name Kurien then I can get away," said Dharmarajan's statement.

The sex scandal took place at Suryanelli in Idukki district January 1996, when a 16-year-old girl was allegedly threatened, abducted and abused by a bus conductor and was later confined and sexually assaulted for 45 days by 42 men.

The case was back in the spotlight after the Supreme Court ordered a retrial in the case Jan 31, while setting aside the acquittal in 2005 by the Kerala High Court of all but one of the 35 accused convicted by a special court.

Dharmarajan, who is currently in jail, filed the affidavit in the court where the victim of the sex scandal filed a petition March 27 demanding investigation against Kurien and four others.

She sought a fresh probe in the light of the disclosure made by Dharmarajan in February that he knew Kurien as the Rajya Sabha member travelled to Idukki in 1996 in his car.

Kurien's name never appeared in the list of accused and in the late 1990s after a special court found more than 42 people guilty, the victim filed a private complaint against Kurien in a court in Idukki district, pointing that he had exploited her at a guest house.

Kurien got a discharge in the case from the apex court in that petition.

The victim approached the Idukki district sessions court after her petition was not admitted in a lower court in March this year.

Dharmarajan secured bail in 2005 and went missing only to be traced in February this year by a TV channel which located him in Karnataka.

Kerala Police arrested Dharmarajan Feb 15 and ahead of his arrest he made the allegations against Kurien, which he retracted through his statement Wednesday.

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