Page last updated at 04:35 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 05:35 UK

Rajiv Gandhi killer seeks release

Nalini Sridharan
Sridharan was convicted for being part of the assassination squad

A woman serving a jail term for the assassination of former Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi has sought early release.

Nalini Sriharan, who is serving a life sentence in a prison in southern India, said in a petition she had already served over 16 years in prison.

Under Indian laws, a convict serving a life sentence is eligible for premature release after 14 years in prison.

Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomb in May 1991 during an election rally in southern Tamil Nadu state.

India has always blamed the attack on Tamil Tiger rebels.

Sriharan was convicted for being part of the assassination squad.

She was initially given a death sentence along with three others.

But her sentence was changed into a life term, following a plea for clemency by Rajiv Gandhi's widow and Congress Party president, Sonia Gandhi.

Sriharan, 42, has now moved the high court in the southern city of Chennai seeking a premature release as she had become eligible for it.


Last October, the government had rejected an earlier request for release by Sriharan.

The court will take up her petition early next month.

Last month, Priyanka Gandhi, daughter of Rajiv Gandhi, said she had met Sriharan in the prison.

File picture of Rajiv Gandhi moments before his assassination in May 1991
The Tamil Tigers were blamed for the killing of Mr Gandhi

"It's completely personal, I don't want to say anything about it. I needed to make peace with all the violence in my life," she said.

Correspondents say Priyanka Gandhi's visit is highly significant because her father's murder shocked India and turned many people in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere against the Tamil Tigers.

In 2006, they expressed "regret" for the murder in a move which correspondents say was a realisation by the rebels that the assassination was a huge mistake.

Profile: Sonia Gandhi
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