Madhu lynching case: 9 out of 12 accused absconding after Kerala court quashes bail

The court had admitted the prosecution charge that the accused were influencing witnesses, 19 of whom have already turned hostile.

ByK A Shaji

Published Aug 22, 2022 | 7:54 PMUpdatedAug 22, 2022 | 7:54 PM

Madhu mother

The Kerala Police have said nine out of the 12 accused in the sensational Madhu lynching case are missing after a special court — which deals with atrocities against the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe​ communities — quashed their bail on Saturday, 20 August.

The remaining three have surrendered, and have been sent to jail, added the cops.

Madhu’s mother Malli told South First she was happy about the court’s decision.

All the accused are members of the same influential settler community — in the tribal heartland of Attappady — of which mentally challenged Adivasi youth Madhu was a part.

Madhu was on 22 February, 2018, tied up and beaten to death after being accused of serial theft.

Threat to judge

Meanwhile, legal experts and human rights activists associated with the legal battle demanding justice for Madhu anticipate severe challenges ahead, with the special court judge elaborating on the threats he received from the defence lawyer.

​The judge said the defence lawyer threatened him with dire consequences if the bails were revoked.

The defence also allegedly threatened the judge that news items against him — and with his image — would be circulated in local media.

​Despite the threats, the court cancelled the bail, ​permitting the prosecution ​to submit that the accused had influenced witnesses,​ resulting in most of them turning hostile.​

The prosecution feared that the accused, remaining free on bail, would further affect the impartial trial as they had money and muscle powers. ​

Witnesses influenced?

​So far, 19 witnesses have turned hostile in the case. All except one of the first 20 witnesses in the case turned hostile by claiming that they never saw the lynching and that their earlier statements were recorded under intense police pressure. ​The case has a total of 122 witnesses.

Legal experts said the cancellation of the bail granted to the accused gave only a minor relief as the accused had been out on bail for a long time, and might have already influenced a sizeable portion of the witnesses.

They also cited the state government’s indifference to ensuring a proper judicial process in the case as something that added to the worries.

There have been demands for initiating a legal process against both the defence lawyer and the accused for attempting to subvert the trial.

Other factors

Madhu’s mother Malli and activists have said several factors were responsible for the delayed trial.

For one, they said the authorities dragged their feet on the case despite outrage from the public as video of the incident spread like wildfire on several platforms.

Secondly, the police initially went by the version of events that the accused gave them, leading to initial news reports that it was a thief that had been beaten to death.