On November 22, the police filed a charge-sheet against actor Dileep in the case of the abduction and rape of the female actor. Dileep is the eighth accused, though earlier reports had suggested that he would be made the first accused.
Legal experts say the decision to make him accused No 8 was based on a technicality. The police had made Sunil Kumar, the alleged rapist, the first accused in an earlier charge-sheet filed on April 18. The charge-sheet against Dileep was filed as a supplementary, as making him the first accused would require considerable changes in the original document. “It does not matter whether he is the prime accused or not,” says an officer. “What matters is the gravity of the charges against him.”
The gravest of the charges against Dileep are section 120(B)—criminal conspiracy—of the Indian Penal Code and 376(D) relating to gang rape. The charge-sheet names 12 accused and more than 300 witnesses.
A star witness for the prosecution is the top actor Manju Warrier, the former wife of Dileep. Her testimony could help the prosecution prove that Dileep had a motive—that he was thirsting to take revenge upon the victim, who allegedly had given Manju an audio clip of a conversation between Dileep and actor Kavya Madhavan in 2013. The clip apparently was conclusive proof that Dileep was having an extramarital affair. Manju obtained divorce and Dileep married Kavya last year.
The charge-sheet says Dileep promised Sunil Rs 1.5 crore to waylay the victim and record obscene images of her. The contract for the job was allegedly given in 2013. The charge-sheet says the four-year delay in execution of it was due to Sunil becoming embroiled in other cases. He went into hiding in 2013 and 2014, and was briefly imprisoned in 2015.
On November 1, 2015, says the charge-sheet, Dileep met Sunil and gave him an advance of Rs 10,000. The following day, Sunil received Rs 1,00,000, which he transferred to his mother’s account, and an additional 130,000 in September last year. The charge-sheet says Dileep met Sunil at various locations in November last year and urged him to hurry up as the victim was about to get married.
There was a failed attempt to abduct her in January 2017, when she was shooting for Honey Bee 2: Celebrations. The next attempt was planned for February, when she was scheduled to shoot a promotional song in Kochi for the movie.
According to the charge-sheet, Martin Antony, the victim’s driver and accused No 2, picked her up from her house in Thrissur around 7:45pm on February 17. Sunil, accompanied by accused No 3 and 4 (Manikandan and Vijish Ramakrishnan), started tailing her from Karukutty, about 45km from Kochi. Around 9:15pm, they rammed the car in a stage-managed accident, and Antony stopped the car as if to deal with them. Within no time, Manikandan and Ramakrishnan entered her car and restrained her. Manikandan drove while the crime was committed.
After the news broke, the three alleged assailants fled to Coimbatore, where the seventh accused, Charlie Thomas, gave them shelter.
A missing piece of evidence is the memory card containing the video of the rape. In August, the police arrested lawyer Pratheesh Chacko (accused No 11), who confessed to hiding and later destroying the memory card with the help of his colleague Raju Joseph (accused No 12). The fifth and sixth accused were part of Sunil’s gang. The ninth and tenth accused are Sunil’s fellow prisoners who helped him reach out to Dileep while he was in jail.