India: Tripura editor found guilty of triple murder
India: Newspaper editor found guilty of murdering three employeesReuters file photo

A high-profile newspaper editor in the northeast Indian state of Tripura has been found guilty of murdering three of his employees.

Sushil Choudhury, the 76-year old editor and owner of regional Bengali daily Dainik Ganadoot, was arrested in June last year for killing three workers, whose bodies were found in his office.

The three victims - driver Balaram Ghosh, office manager Ranhit Choudhury and proofreader Sujit Bhattacharjee - all worked at the newspaper prior to their deaths in May last year.

According to investigating officers, Sushil Choudhury strangled and stabbed his namesake Ranjit, with the help of Ghosh. A scuffle then broke out between Ghosh and Bhattacharjee, before the two men stabbed each other.

Ghosh's wife and 13-year-old daughter witnessed the murders and asked the editor for help, according to the Hindu newspaper. Choudhury did not interfere, nor did he inform the police.

Ghosh's wife, who initially defended Choudhury, later turned against him as a witness and gave her statement in the court. She was one of the accused in the case but following her statement as witness, she was let off.

Choudhury's punishment will be announced on Thursday (17 July). After he was found guilty, prosecutor Dilip Sarkar told reporters outside the court he is facing either a death sentence or life imprisonment.

Huge controversy

The triple murder, which took place in state capital Agartala, had triggered a huge controversy. There were reports that motorcycle-borne assailants stormed the newspaper office and asked for the editor before killing the employees.

Choudhury is an influential journalist in the state and had accompanied Indian prime ministers during foreign tours.

It has been alleged that Choudhury was involved in murky land deals and that he killed the employees when they threatened to expose him. Choudhury denied the charges.