The Madras High Court on Thursday sentenced nine people to life imprisonment for their role in the attack on the office of Tamil daily Dinakaran in 2007 in which three men were killed, PTI reported. The convicts sentenced are “Attack” Pandi, Vijaya Pandi, Kandasamy, Ramaiah Pandian, Prabhu, V Sudhakar, Thirumurgan, Ruban and Malik Batcha.

The High Court has also convicted former Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajaram in the case and ordered him to appear before it on March 25, when it will pronounce the quantum of the sentence, The News Minute reported. Rajaram was included as an accused for failing to prevent the arsonists, The Hindu reported.

Justices PN Prakash and B Pugalendi of the High Court’s Madurai bench sentenced them to three terms of life imprisonment which will be served concurrently. The court also sentenced them to five years of rigorous imprisonment under the Explosives Act and charges of causing damage to properties and murders.

The court ordered the Tamil Nadu government to pay Rs 5 lakh to the families of the daily’s employees Gopinath, Vinoth and Muthuramalingam, who were killed in the attack on May 9, 2007, the news website reported.

“For the supine indifference shown by the police in failing to protect the lives of Vinoth Kumar (D1), Gopinath (D2) and Muthuramalingam (D3), we impose vicarious liability and direct the State of Tamil Nadu to pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the bereaved, within a period of three months from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment,” the website quoted the order as saying.

The three were killed in the attack that followed the daily’s publication of a survey that predicted that MK Stalin would succeed M Karunanidhi, who was the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president then, as his political heir. Stalin was Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister at the time and MK Alagiri, also Karunanidhi’s son, was Union minister.

Among the accused, “Attack” Pandi, who is believed to be Alagiri’s aide, is currently lodged in the Palayamkottai Central Jail for the murder of a man identified as ‘Pottu’ Suresh. The court ordered the immediate arrest of the eight others.

Another of the accused, Saravanamuthu, died during the trial, and a convict identified as Dayamuthu is absconding.

MK Stalin was appointed DMK president after his father’s death in August.

Dinakaran newspaper is owned by the Sun Group, headed by media baron Kalanithi Maran.

On December 9, 2009, a Central Bureau of Investigation special court acquitted all 17 people who were arrested in the case. The investigating agency and Vinoth’s mother had appealed against the verdict.