The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which recently began a fresh investigation into a decade-old case of an Andhra girl student's rape and murder, on Friday questioned Satyam Babu who was acquitted in 2017.
A team of CBI officials questioned the youth at his house near Vijayawada in Anasagaram village in Krishna district. They were also recording the statement of his family members. Visuals showed officials going through documents in Satyam Babuâ€™s house even as he stood next to them.
A lawyer who had argued Satyamâ€™s case in court confirmed to TNM that CBI officials had recorded his statement but did not comment further as the case was sub judice.
The central agency, which took up the investigation on the direction of the Hyderabad High Court in December, will also question the managers of a private hostel where the 19-year-old victim, a B Pharmacy student, was raped and murdered on the intervening night of December 26 and 27, 2007.
The CBI registered two separate First Information Reports (FIRs) - one against unknown persons for the rape and murder, and another against three employees of a Vijayawada court for destroying the evidence.
In 2008, police claimed that one Satyam Babu, arrested in a cell phone robbery case, confessed to the murder. A court in Vijayawada, on September 10, 2010, convicted and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
The Hyderabad High Court in 2017 acquitted Babu and ordered action against the police officials involved. By then, he had spent eight years in jail without any evidence of his involvement in the crime. Subsequently, the state government constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to conduct a fresh probe.
The High Court, which was supervising the probe by the SIT, found that evidence in the case was destroyed in the Mahila Court Vijayawada in 2014, even though the appeal against the conviction of Babu was pending in the High Court. Taking serious note of this, the High Court reached the conclusion that only a probe by an independent agency could bring out the truth.
The victim's parents, both teachers, had alleged that police had pinned the blame on Satyam Babu to mislead the investigation, as the relative of a powerful politician was involved in the crime.
They had repeatedly claimed that former Congress Minister Koneru Ranga Rao's grandson, Koneru Satish, frequently visited the hostel along with other relatives including Koneru Suresh, Abburi Ganesh, Chinita Pawankumar and Rakesh. Alleging that the warden, Koneru Padma, allowed them to enter the girls' hostel, the parents have repeatedly laid the blame of their daughterâ€™s murder on them.
Read: Back home, Satyam Babu looks back at a youth wasted in jail and hopes to rebuild his life