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Monday, December 5, 2022

Murti smuggler Subhash Kapoor sentenced to 10 years, to be tried on 4 more cases

Notorious smuggler Subhash Kapoor who stole and sold ancient Hindu deities has been sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment by the court in the case of stealing and smuggling 19 antique murtis. Along with Kapoor, 5 of his accomplices who helped him in the act have also been convicted.

Kapoor was arrested in relation to the burglary and smuggling of 19 panchaloha murtis worth Rs 94 crores from the Varadaraja Perumal temple in Udayarpalayam, Ariyalur in 2000. TN Idol Wing police filed a case in 2008, but the investigation faced obstacles as Kapoor is a US citizen. A Red Corner notice was issued by Interpol and Kapoor was detained by the German police in 2011. 

Later he was handed over to the Idol Wing COD police for investigation in 2012 and extradited to Bharat. He was remanded to judicial custody the next day and lodged in Trichy Central Prison since then. He had tried to delay the trial by filing multiple bail applications and discharge petitions which were all dismissed. In 2020 he filed an application in the Kumbakonam Court seeking to recall and cross-examine 17 witnesses, which was dismissed.

He went to the Madras High Court to challenge it in 2021, which also dismissed his appeal. Only then did the trial commence at the Kumbakonam Additional Chief Magistrate Court, and all the accused were convicted. While Subhash Kapoor and two of his accomplices, Sanjiv Asokan and Packiyakumar, were awarded 10 years of rigorous imprisonment, other convicts Marichamy, Sri Ram alias Sulogu, and Parthiban, were sentenced to 14 years.

The court also fined him Rs 7000, which he refused to pay. As he has already served 11 years in prison, he will be released after paying the fine. It is suspected that he is refusing to pay to delay being picked up by the US and German authorities for investigation. Delay in Kapoor’s trial has strained Bharat- Germany diplomatic relations as the latter has stalled other extradition requests.

Four more cases against Kapoor for smuggling murtis from the temples in Vikramangalam, Veeravanallur, Paluvoor, and Virudhachalam are remaining against Kapoor. They are pending concurrence from the German Government for trials to be initiated. Kapoor smuggled and sold thousands of artifacts to private collectors and museums throughout the world. When he was arrested in Germany, the US launched “Operation Hidden Idol” through which more than 2500 artifacts with links to Kapoor were recovered.

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