The hostile witness

Published : May 27, 2000 00:00 IST


MARUMALARCHI Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) chief Vaiko figured as a controversial witness in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case tried by the Special Court. This is clear from the judgment which recorded Vaiko's non-cooperation with the prosecution w hen it came to providing evidence on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He denied in court most of the statements he reportedly made earlier when examined by the Inspector of Police Ramesh (prosecution witness-284) in the course of the invest igations into the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. He feigned ignorance about having identified the book, Tamil National Question and Indo-Sri Lankan Accord, or his article titled 'Prabakaran thought of suicide before the signing of the Accord' in the book. The court declared him "hostile to the prosecution." Paragraph 618 of the judgment states: "... Permission was sought by the Public Prosecutor to declare PW-250 (Vaiko) as a hostile witness...Court accepted the request of the Prosecutor and permitted him tocross-examine PW-250...PW-250 was thereafter cross-examined by the Public Prosecutor and PW-2 50 was confronted with statement recorded under Section 161 of the Cr.P.C."

Vaiko's attitude towards the LTTE is clearly stated in paragraphs 761-774. According to the judgment, in his speeches at the International Tamil Conference in London (which was published on May 8, 1988 in the DMK's organ, Murasoli), in the Rajya S abha, as a DMK member, on August 17, 1987, and at a meeting in Palayamkotai in Tirunelveli district on August 5, 1990, Vaiko mentioned his conversation with LTTE chief Velupillai Prabakaran (over the telephone as he was denied access to him) who was conf ined to Room 518 in the Ashok Hotel in New Delhi when the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement was being signed on July 29, 1987 in Colombo.

According to Vaiko, Prabakaran told him that "we have been betrayed by the Government of India, by Rajiv Gandhi. I have been stabbed in the back." At the London Tamil Conference, Vaiko allegedly said: "I agreed with him that the accord was a big fraud p erpetrated on the Tamils (sic)." But before the Special Court, he denied having spoken about his Delhi conversation with Prabhakaran in the London Conference and the Rajya Sabha. He also challenged the prosecution to prove that the voice in the video cas sette of the Palayamkotai meeting was his. This, the prosecution proved with help from experts of Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai.

The Delhi phone conversation is important, for, as the judgment says, "It was at that point of time that the seed of hatred against Rajiv Gandhi was sown in the mind of Prabakaran..."

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