Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar
 


Shafeek Malangadan, wanted for 25 years, was held in Karipur airport by Kerala Police.

A murder accused who escaped to the Gulf 25 years ago landed in police net at the Karipur airport in Kerala on Wednesday when he tried to sneak back into his homeland on a chartered flight following the COVID-19 scare.

The arrest of Shafeek Malangadan, 50, prime accused in the murder of Youth League worker Manaf Pallipparamban, brought the focus back on a gory incident that took place at Othayi, near Edavanna, on April 13, 1995, largely because of the alleged involvement of Nilambur MLA P.V. Anvar in the case.

A nephew of Mr. Anvar, Shafeek has been under surveillance ever since he escaped to the UAE soon after the murder in 1995. After a prolonged fight for justice by Manaf’s family, police issued a lookout notice for Shafeek following a court order two years ago.

The emigration wing at Karipur identified and caught him soon after he landed from Sharjah at 7.50 a.m. on Wednesday. He was produced before a court and was remanded in judicial custody with COVID-19 protection.

The Kerala government’s attitude in this case had evoked criticism. It did nothing even after the victim’s family provided pictures and videos of Shafeek enjoying his life in the UAE. The family even staged a protest in front of the Secretariat.

Mr. Anvar, the second accused in the case, and 20 others were exonerated by a trial court after the prime witness turned hostile.

The victim’s family had raised serious allegations against special prosecutor in the case, C. Sreedharan Nair, who is currently the Director General of Prosecutions, blaming him for the exoneration of Mr. Anvar and others.

A review petition filed by Manaf’s brother Abdul Razak, seeking to annul the lower court verdict, is awaiting the High Court’s consideration.

The DGP had given a report to the government that there was no public interest in the case and that the appointment of a Special Public Prosecutor would place undue burden on the exchequer.

Rejecting the claim, the High Court asked the government to appoint a public prosecutor in two months. The government is yet to act on it.