An engineer was given life imprisonment by the sessions court on Tuesday although there was no direct evidence against him nor was the body recovered.
He was found guilty based on circumstantial evidence.
On the night of June 12 in 2005, the accused murdered his colleague onboard Jag Leela, an Indian flagged ship, while approaching Lagos in Nigeria. He dumped the body in the sea.
The police said Arvindkumar Shamkumar Singh, the second engineer of the ship and a native of Bihar, went missing. The crew members alerted their shipping company office in Worli.
The government asked the unit 1 of crime branch to make inquiries into the case. Two officers Deepak Dhole and Anil Naik went to Lagos to make inquiries on June 26, 2005. “When a person is off duty on ship, he has to remain in his room and can come out only if a senior staff calls him. During investigations, it was learnt that on the night of the incident, despite being given three calls, fourth engineer Gyanendra Jaybhagwan Chauhan didn’t respond,” said senior inspector Ramesh Mahale of crime branch.
When the officers found him, he had injuries on his hand and eyes. When inquired about it, he couldn’t give proper answers. “After sustained interrogation, he broke down and admitted that he had murdered Singh,” added Mahale.
Chauhan had told the police that he had thrown Singh’s body in the high seas. “Chauhan said he had several petty arguments with Singh and so he planned to kill him. The DNA analysis taken from the blood samples found in the ship matched with Singh’s parents DNA samples. Singh’s body could not be recovered and it is extremely difficult to prove murder charge when the body is not recovered,” said Mahale.
Chauhan was brought to the city and a murder case registered against him. “On Tuesday, sessions court judge VM Mohite found him guilty under section 302 of the IPC for murder and awarded him life imprisonment and Rs5,000 fine. He was also given seven years’ imprisonment and Rs5,000 fine for destroying evidence,” the officer said.