India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday released a man convicted of killing former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi after 31 years in prison.
The Supreme Court has called for extraordinary powers to release AG Perarivalan, his attorney told CNN.
Perarivalan was arrested a few weeks after Gandhi was assassinated in a suicide bombing on May 21, 1991 in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
Sri Lanka has been blamed for attacks on separatist rebels fighting for a Tamil state. Gandhi’s assassination was seen as revenge for the decision to send Indian troops to Sri Lanka in 1987 to implement a peace treaty ending the island’s civil war.
Perarivalan, who was 19 at the time of the attack, was accused of buying batteries for the bomb. According to court documents, he was convicted of criminal conspiracy to murder, among other charges.
He was sentenced to death along with six others in 1998, but in 2014 his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
In 2015, Perarivalan’s attorney K. Pari Vendhan filed a mercy petition, which was sent to the Governor of Tamil Nadu. After failing to get a response from the governor for several years, Vendhan applied for bail in the Supreme Court.
In March of this year, the Supreme Court granted bail to Perarivalan for his “conduct during his long imprisonment”, his educational qualifications in prison and his “ill health” according to court documents. The court heard that the governor had referred the mercy petition to Indian President Ram Nath Kobind.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that it would release Perarivalan, completing his sentence under a constitutional provision that allows the court to make an order during a trial. The court found that the governor did not have the authority to send a mercy petition to the president and that he had failed to respond to the plea, Wendhan said.
On Wednesday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin Tweet A video of Perarivalan embracing after his release.