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Neeraj Grover murder: Maria walks free, visits church

Last updated on: July 2, 2011 16:54 IST

Neeraj Grover murder: Maria walks free, visits church

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Kannada actress Maria Susairaj, sentenced to three-year imprisonment in the 2008 murder of television executive Neeraj Grover, on Saturday walked free out of a jail in Mumbai as she has already spent the term behind the bars.

Clad in a floral brown kurta and black pants, the 30-year-old was escorted to a waiting car by a posse of policemen, as there was a huge media presence outside the Byculla Jail.

Accompanied by her brother, Maria stopped at Mahim church for 10 minutes to pray.

She will hold a press conference later in the evening. She wants to talk to the public, said her lawyer Sharif Shaikh. He also dismissed reports of her moving out of the city. "Maria is staying in Mumbai," he said.

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Image: Maria Susairaj walks out of Byculla jail
Photographs: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com
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The starlet was found guilty under Indian Penal Code Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and awarded the jail term on Saturday along with boyfriend, former navy officer Emlie Jerome, who was held guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the macabre killing of the 25-year-old TV professional over three years ago.

While Maria was released, Jerome, 28, awarded ten years imprisonment, will have to be behind bars for seven more years. The duo had been in jail for three years as undertrials.


Image: Susairaj visited Mahim church in Mumbai after he release
Photographs: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com
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Jerome was also sentenced to three years imprisonment for destruction of evidence. Both the sentences would run concurrently.

Both the accused were charged by the prosecution with murder, criminal conspiracy, common intention and causing disappearance of evidence.

Maria's counsel Sharif Sheikh had contended that she had already served three years in jail, as provided under Section 201 of IPC, and "keeping her in jail for more days would be like illegal confinement". Maintaining that she was not a habitual offender, Sheikh pleaded for lighter sentence considering her young age.


Image: Susairaj leaves from sessions court after she was convicted on Thursday
Photographs: Sahil Salvi/Reuters
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Absolving the couple of murder charge on Thursday, sessions court Judge N W Chandwani, while pronouncing the quantum of sentence on Saturday, also ordered the two to together pay a fine of Rs 1.50 lakh, which is to be paid to the victim's father.

Neeraj's grieving father Amarnath Grover had described the sentence as an "acquittal" for Maria.

Neeraj was killed and his body hacked into several pieces and dumped in Manor forest in adjoining Thane on May 7, 2008.


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