Chennai :  More than 22 years after he was arrested for his alleged role in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at an election rally in Tamil Nadu, Perarivalan, a death convict, has found fresh hope of a reprieve.

In a startling disclosure, that raises questions over the manner in which the former Prime Minister’s assassination was investigated by the Special Investigation Team of the CBI, a retired Superintendent of Police S P Thiagarajan has now admitted to tweaking Perarivalan’s confession merely to strengthen the case.

Perarivalan was 19 years old when the SIT took him into custody. The investigators submitted a confessional statement from him which said: “I procured two 9 volt batteries, which were used for making the belt bomb.” It was based on this crucial confession that the trial court and the Supreme Court held Perarivalan and others guilty and sentenced him to death.

However, now Thiagarajan has openly stated that he had actually tweaked the confession. “He had only said that he had procured the batteries. He never said that the batteries were used in the making of the belt bomb,” Thiagarajan first said in a documentary filmed by a human rights group which is campaigning against death penalty.

Over the last two days, Thiagarajan, who is based in Kerala, has given interviews to various newspapers stating that he decided to speak out as he wanted to help Perarivalan. “I am now retired, so I can finally speak. We tweaked the confession because that was the only way to strengthen the case. I never anticipated this confessional statement would be relied upon by the court to award death sentence to him,” he was quoted in the media.

Thiagarajan added that one “better be late than never” in revealing the truth.

Following the disclosure, prominent political leaders, including DMK president M Karunanidhi and PMK founder S Ramadoss, have called for commuting the death sentence of Perarivalan and two other black warrant prisoners.

On Monday, Perarivalan’s mother Arputhammal submitted a petition to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa urging her to intervene and save her son from the gallows in the light of the fresh evidence.

“The Chief Minister had earlier moved a resolution in the State Assembly urging the President to reconsider the mercy petitions submitted by my son and the co-convicts. I hope now she will intervene again following Thiagarajan’s revelation,” she told journalists.

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