Koodathayi: trial yet to begin

COVID-19 protocol cited for delay in preliminary hearing

Even after two years, the trial in the six cases relating to Koodathayi killings is yet to begin at the Kozhikode sessions court.

The COVID-19 protocol has been cited for the delay in completing preliminary hearing in the cases. Besides, the Kerala High Court has to dispose of a petition filed by a notary, C. Vijayakumar, seeking to exclude him from the list of accused, special prosecutor N.K. Unnikrishnan told The Hindu.

The police had made Mr. Vijayakumar an accused on the charge of stamping and approving a fake document to help prime accused Jolly Joseph take control of the assets of the family of her husband.

The preliminary hearing under Section 226 (opening case for prosecution) of the Code of Criminal Procedure is basically a legal procedure to hear the prosecution and defence before the court officially frames the charges and reads out the chargesheet to the accused.

The case relates to Jolly, 47, eliminating two branches of the Ponnamattom family after giving them poison or cyanide-laced food or drink over a period of 14 years. On October 4, 2019 the police had opened the family tombs to examine the reasons behind the mysterious deaths of six persons from a family.

The chain of deaths had taken place between 2002 and 2016. Jolly allegedly poisoned to death her mother-in-law, Annamma Thomas, 57, a retired teacher in 2002. Then the family treated it as a natural death. Six years later, her father-in-law, Tom Thomas, 66, died of a mysterious heart failure.

In 2011, her husband, Roy Thomas, died in a similar manner. However, the autopsy revealed poisoning as the cause of death. Likewise, Annamma’s brother Mathew Manjadiyil died in 2014. In 2016, Sily, wife of Shaju Zacharias, who is Roy’s cousin and Jolly’s second husband, and Shaju’s one-year-old daughter Alphine also died.

A complaint filed by Rojo Thomas, youngest son of Tom Thomas, with Vadakara Rural Superintendent of Police K.G. Simon led to unravelling of the mysterious deaths. Crime Branch Dy.SP. T. Haridas probed the case.

However, it was the reinvestigation of the Roy murder case that brought to light the other five murders. The chargesheet in all the cases were submitted in the court last year.

Jolly and M.S. Mathew, aka Shaji, who allegedly supplied cyanide to the former are lodged as remand prisoners. Another accused Prajikumar, who also helped in obtaining cyanide, is out on bail.

A former Communist Party of India (Marxist) local leader E. Manoj Kumar, who allegedly prepared a fake document, was also named an accused in the case.

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