Police probe report says allegations against former minister true

<TABLE class=RedTableBorder style="HEIGHT: 483px" cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR style="PADDING-LEFT: 10px" vAlign=top><TD class=articalTitle align=middle><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=430 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=dates id=hDate height=27>Published: Tuesday, 26 June, 2007, 09:00 AM Doha Time</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR><TR style="PADDING-RIGHT: 12px; PADDING-LEFT: 10px"><TD class=articalBody id=artical1 vAlign=top height=345>By Ashraf Padanna
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A senior police officer has upheld charges against former Kerala minister P J Joseph who was accused of misbehaving with a woman co-passenger while flying from Chennai to Kochi last year.
In her report to Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, Inspector General of Police B Sandhya said there was no reason not to believe the allegation by the co-passenger that the senior Kerala politician “outraged her modesty.”
The IG also rejected Joseph’s claim that the allegation was part of a conspiracy to force his resignation.
In her statement to the IG, Laxmi Gopakumar, a former television newsreader, said she had to shout and sound the alarm bell as Joseph tried to grope her from behind as the plane was taking off from Chennai.
“Initially, I felt some living object creeping into my body. With the seatbelt fastened, I could not stand up so I shouted. Then I saw a hand moving away, to the back of my seat,” Gopakumar said.
“I shouted and called him ‘a shameless man’. I wouldn’t have shouted like that if it was accidental,” she said.
After keeping it secret for nine months, the government was forced to reveal the report, though not in full, after D B Binu, a lawyer, sought details of the investigation under the Right to Information Act. Binu said eight pages were missing from the copy of the document he received and he plans to move the court against it.
“Under the RTI Act, the copy should have been certified by the authorities concerned. However, that was also missing. I’ll file an affidavit in the high court on this tomorrow,” Binu said.
If found guilty, Joseph, who heads his own Kerala Congress (Joseph), party, could be sentenced up to two years in jail.
Joseph was forced to quit as public works minister after the scandal.
“We discussed the report in the cabinet nine months ago and found it baseless. It was part of a conspiracy against me,” Joseph said reacting to the report. “I don’t know the motive of those who rake up the issue now. My statement was also missing,” he added.

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