Agartala: A court in Tripura Thursday awarded life imprisonment till death to a newspaper editor-cum-owner in a year-old triple murder case, a public prosecutor said.
Kripankur Chakraborty, additional district and sessions judge of West Tripura district, also slapped a fine of Rs.70,000 on 73-year-old Sushil Choudhury, the editor-cum-owner of Bengali daily 'Dainik Ganadoot'.
The judge "awarded the rigorous life imprisonment till his (Choudhury) death for murdering three of his employees May 19, 2013", special public prosecutor Dilip Sarkar told reporters after the judgment.
The court Monday found Choudhury guilty of the triple murder under different sections of the Indian Penal Code.
"This is one of the rarest-of-the-rare case. Choudhury was the main architect of the killing of three people and it was a pre-planned and tactful murder," the judge said in his 434-page judgment.
"Considering his age, the sentences commuted to life term till death instead of death sentence," the judge said.
Sarkar, accompanied by his team of lawyers, said: "Though we have sought Choudhury's capital punishment, we are happy with the judgment of the court." It was a fit case for death sentence, he added.
Sarkar said the accused can apply to higher court within 60 days against the district court judgment.
Choudhury, who was allegedly involved in several other offences earlier, along with one of his woman employees Niyoti Ghosh was arrested weeks after the murder of the three employees.
Niyoti Ghosh, 35, wife of Balaram Ghosh, the slain driver of the newspaper's office vehicle, turned approver in the case and was let off from the case.
She was arrested with Choudhury but during the course of investigation, she provided valuable clues to police. The investigating officer then told her that she could turn approver, an offer she accepted.
Niyoti's husband Balaram Ghosh, manager Ranjit Choudhury, a former Border Security Force employee, and proof reader Sujit Bhattacharjee were murdered at around May 19 last year in the newspaper's office here.
Niyoti Ghosh and her 13-year-old daughter witnessed the murder of Balaram Ghosh, who was stabbed to death. The family lived in the same building in which the newspaper office was situated.
"The killing was relating to property dispute and illicit affairs," investigating officer Manas Paul told reporters. He added that 41 witness were examined during the year-long trial.
"With the judgment of the court, people would maintain their confidence on police," the young police officer said.
Choudhury's wife and daughters, who were present in the court when the judgment was pronounced, broke down inside the crowded court.
Choudhury, who had accompanied presidents and prime ministers in more than 80 foreign trips, had authored a book on his journeys with the high dignitaries.