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Santhan dies in Chennai hospital, just days before he was due to return home

T Suthendraraja alias Santhan (55), one of the seven freed convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, passed away at a hospital in Chennai, just days before he was finally due to return to Eelam and see his family for the first time in decades.

According to Indian press reports, he passed away after having suffered a cardiac arrest.

His death brings to an end a 30-year-long yearning to be reunited with his mother and his family who remain in Jaffna. His family, particularly his mother intensified her pleas to have her son brought home after it was announced that Santhan was also ailing from liver failure and his health was deteriorating fast. 

Last week the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) of the Union Ministry of External Affairs in India issued an emergency travel document for Santhan to leave immediately. He was to arrive in Jaffna in just a few days, before his health began to deteriorate even further.

Several Indian news outlets quoting the Dean of the Rajiv Gandhi government general hospital, E Theranirajan reported that Santhan had suffered a cardiac arrest in the early hours of Wednesday (28) morning. He was revived following a CPR procedure and placed on a ventilator. However, Santhan did not respond well to treatment and passed away at 7:30 am.

 A post-mortem was to be conducted and legal arrangements were underway to send his body home for the final religious rites. It was also noted that Santhan was suffering from cryptogenic cirrhosis, a condition unrelated to alcohol consumption that affects liver functioning.

Santhan's counsel advocate Pugazhendhi told The News Minute, “His brother was there at the hospital when he passed away".

Santhan was convicted with six others for facilitating the assassination of the former Indian Premier. However, in November 2022, the High Court released all seven individuals. Subsequently, they were transferred to the Special Camp, a detention centre for foreigners located in Trichy Central Jail, where they have been held since November 2022.

In recent days, Santhan fell seriously ill and was admitted to a government hospital in Chennai for treatment. As his health continued to worsen he was then transferred to a government hospital in Trichy, before being moved back to Chennai, to the Rajiv Gandhi Hospital.

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