A Tamil nationalist leader accused of supplying arms to India's most wanted outlaw has been released from jail.
Kolathur Mani was freed on bail from a prison in India's Tamil Nadu state following a directive from a court in neighbouring Karnataka state.
He has been accused of sending arms and explosives to the bandit Veerappan, said to be hiding in a forest on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border.
There is a huge reward on Veerappan's head
Veerappan had asked for Mr Mani to be sent to negotiate the release of a former Karnataka state minister, Hannur Nagappa, abducted by the outlaw.
The Karnataka Government came close to conceding the demand but before it complete legal formalities, Mr Nagappa's body was discovered in a jungle.
Police have accused Veerappan of executing the former minister although the circumstances of his death are still unclear.
Mr Mani was lodged in a prison in the town of Trichy in connection with another police investigation.
Since his arrest in March last year he has been kept in different prisons in the two states.
Mr Mani had successfully negotiated the release of Kannada-language film star Rajkumar from Veerappan's custody nearly three years ago.
The Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments have launched a massive effort to capture Veerappan, offering a huge reward.
So far, their efforts have failed mainly because they say they have little knowledge of his hideouts.
The bandit is said to be very popular among local villagers, something which appears to have helped him evade the law.