BENGALURU: A 36-year-old civil contractor, who was treated as a witness earlier, has been arrested by the special investigation team (SIT) in connection with the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, on charges of harbouring criminals, concealing design to commit offence and destroying evidence. This is the 11th arrest made in the case.Suresh H L, who hails from Tumakuru, was arrested on Wednesday. Following allegation of torture by SIT sleuths, the court refused to remand him in police custody and sent him to jail.
He was produced before the 1st Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) court on Thursday by the SIT. Special public prosecutor S S Vadavadagi, representing the SIT, submitted that the accused knew about the conspiracy to carry out the murder well in advance and had extended his support to the assailants by letting them use his house to stay for a few days before the murder. Further, he also told the court that Suresh had destroyed the evidence after the commission of the offence.
He requested the court to remand the accused in SIT custody for 14 days as he needs to be questioned. But advocate Nagesh Joshi, the counsel representing the accused, informed the court about the alleged torture by the SIT and the accused showed bruises on his face to the judge. Joshi requested the court not to remand him in police custody as they would further torture him. He pressed for a medical examination to determine the nature of injuries.
Remanding the accused in judicial custody, the magistrate asked SIT to appeal before the 3rd ACMM court, to take him into police custody. The accused would be subjected to medical examination on Friday.
“He was staying in the house from June 2017 and it is established that he had allowed the assailants to stay for around 10 days in July last year, during which the assailants planned the murder and were also going out to conduct recce near Gauri’s house. We had summoned him for questioning after some of the accused were caught. He admitted to have given the house to them, but had pleaded innocence about their conspiracy in the murder. His statement was also recorded before a magistrate. But the investigations revealed that he clearly knew the motive of the accused. Based on several evidences against him, he was arrested,” an SIT official said.
SIT official: Suresh burnt evidence
It is learnt that Suresh allegedly destroyed the clothes suspected shooter Parashuram Waghmare and alleged biker Ganesh Miskin were wearing, when they allegedly killed Gauri. “A few days after the murder, he burnt the clothes and destroyed the helmets the assailants were wearing,” an SIT official said.