TN court convicts Subash Kapoor for theft, illegal export of Chola idols; awards 10 years jail

The prosecution case is that the stolen idols belong to Sri Varadaraja Perumal temple at Suthamalli village in Ariyalur district and were worth Rs 94 crores.
Subash Kapoor (File | Express)
Subash Kapoor (File | Express)

THANJAVUR: The Indian-American art dealer Subash Kapoor was sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment on Tuesday by a court in Kumbakonam in a case of idol burglary and illegal export, involving 19 idols valued at Rs 94 crores.

The 71-year-old art dealer illegally exported the idols to his Art of the Past Gallery in New York, according to Idol Wing police in Tamil Nadu.

In 2008 as many as 19 antique idols belonging to the Sri Varadaraja Perumal temple at Suthamalli village in Ariyalur district were stolen. Based on a complaint from the temple's executive officer, Udayarpalayam police registered a case. When one Marichamy and two others were arrested in Kerala, they revealed they had stolen the idols and exported them illegally through Sanjivi Asokan and one Packiyakumar. That duo was in contact with Kapoor and all of them had conspired to burgle and export the ancient Chola artefacts, the prosecution argued.

Kapoor was detained by German police on October 30, 2011, at Cologne airport based on a Red Corner Notice issued by Interpol. He was handed over to the Idol Wing police in Chennai on July 13, 2012 at Cologne airport and extradited to India to face charges in the case. He was remanded to judicial custody by a court in Jayankondam on July 14, 2012, and lodged in the Central Prison at Tiruchy.

The Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate court, hearing the case, on Tuesday, sentenced Kapoor to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment.

According to the judgment, Kapoor was found guilty under Sections 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property), 414 (assisting in the concealment of stolen property) and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. Sanjivi Asokan and Packiyakumar were each awarded 10 years of rigorous imprisonment. Marichamy, Sri Ram alias Sulogu and Parthiban were awarded 14 years each of rigorous imprisonment.

K Jayanth Murali, the DGP of Idol Wing-CID announced a reward to Balamurugan, ADSP of Central Zone and his team for expediting the high-profile case despite mounting pressure due to "diverse dilatory tactics adopted by Kapoor and the co-accused to delay the trial", a CID release stated. Four more idol smuggling cases are pending against Kapoor in Vikramangalam, Veeravanallur, Paluvoor and Virudhachalam police stations in Tamil Nadu, the release added.

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