KOCHI: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the actor abduction trial in the state has been postponed to April 7. The Additional Special Sessions Court on Monday decided to postpone the trial procedure after consulting with the prosecutor and counsels of the accused.
The court decided to issue a 'stop memo' to all the witnesses to be examined as part of the trial from March 25 to April 7. The court decided to conduct a sitting on April 3 to decide when to restart the trial. The prosecution has been asked to submit a revised witness examination schedule on April 3. The counsels of the accused including actor Dileep did not object to the postponement of the trial.
The court had scheduled to examine around 30 witnesses during this period. The trial was posted on March 25, 26, 27, 28, April 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7. As per the earlier schedule, the first phase witness examination was expected to be completed by April 7. In the first phase, as many as 136 witnesses were to be examined. In the second phase, as many as 119 witnesses were to be heard.
In November 2019, the Supreme Court had ordered to complete the trial in six months. The prosecution also faces challenges as several witnesses have to travel from other districts to appear at the court. With partial lockdown affecting transportation, several witnesses cannot turn up at the court.
Similarly, producing the accused persons who are currently in jail on the days when the trial is held will be another challenge for the court. Though the video-conferencing system is provided to the court, it is yet to be installed and linked with the jails.
The court has decided to restrain media from reporting in-camera proceedings as part of the trial in the case. The order was issued in the wake of a petition filed by actor Dileep saying that the statements given by witnesses are being leaked to the media.