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Dileep may get double life term if convicted in assault case, but lack of credible witness a concern

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Nine months after a South Indian actress was abducted and sexually assaulted in the port city of Kochi, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Kerala police has filed the chargesheet arraigning popular actor Dileep as the key conspirator.

This is the second charge sheet in the sensational case that rocked the southern state in February this year. The first chargesheet was filed on 19 April booking Sunil Kumar aka Pulsar Suni as first accused and six others on various charges, including gangrape, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy.

In addition to the charges levelled against Pulsar Suni, additional charges of abetment of crime and harbouring of offender have also been slapped on the actor. He is listed as the eighth accused in the 1,652-page supplementary chargesheet and may have to undergo double life term if convicted.

Dileep is the 8th accused in the Malayalam actress assault case.

The chargesheet said that Dileep had hatched a conspiracy with Pulsar Suni to harm the actress as he suspected her to be responsible for the breakdown of his marriage with fellow actress Manju Warrier. Accrding to the chargesheet, the friction in the married life of the couple started after the assault victim revealed to Manju Warrier her husband’s alleged extra-marital relationship with his current wife Kavya Madhavan.

The chargesheet said this grudge was the main motive of Dileep for the sexual assault. He wanted the assault visuals before the marriage of the survivor as he wanted to take revenge against her by thwarting her marital life. The chargesheet also said Dileep had tried to sabotage the survivor’s film career by using his clout in the film industry to deny her films.

The name of the actor cropped up in the case after a letter purported to have been written to him by Pulsar Suni from prison reminding him about the money he offered for the job and a selfie taken by a fan with the actor showing Suni in the background on the sets of a film surfaced in the media. This nailed Dileep’s claim that he did not know Suni.

Dileep was arrested after two rounds of interrogation. One lasted as many as 13 hours.

The SIT had planned to go for trial keeping Dileep in jail but the plan failed after the high court granted him bail on the 85th day of his detention.

The SIT took another nearly two months to file the supplementary chargesheet. Has it helped them to solidify their case? Experts are divided over the reliability of the evidences gathered by the SIT.

The chargesheet has listed 355 persons as witnesses and two approvers. It also contains 12 confidential statements and 400 documents, including scientific evidence.

Subhash Babu, a former superintendent of police, said the biggest weakness in the case is the excessive reliability on the statement of the key accused, who has a long criminal record. He told a local television channel that it will be difficult to prove the conspiracy charge merely on the basis of the statement of the co-accused.

The chargesheet does not seem to contain any credible and stable witnesses. Some important witnesses have already turned hostile. A key witness to change stance is Sagar Vincent, a former employee of Laksyah, a boutique run by Kavya Madhavan, who had earlier stated seeing Suni and second accused Vigeesh visiting the shop at Kakkanad in Ernakulam.

The footage of the CCTV there was also found missing. Lakshya is treated as an important part of the investigation as the police believe that some transactions and meetings between the suspects have taken place there.

Another witness who the police relied on to establish the conspiracy in the case is one Charlie, who allegedly sheltered Pulsar Suni and his associates in Coimbatore after the attack. He had told the police earlier that Suni had confided to him about Dileep’s role in the case and shown the assault visuals.

Charlie was supposed to give a confidential statement under Section to 164. But, he later refused to do so. The investigating officers have suspected Dileep’s hand in the change in Charlie’s stance.

Experts are also doubtful about the reliability of several witnesses included in the chargesheet. As many as 50 witnesses in the case are from the film fraternity, who have connections with Dileep. A key witness is Manju Warrier, who was the first to talk about a conspiracy in the case.

She had said in her statement to the police that Dileep was paranoid, and suspected everyone. The statement included in the chargesheet said his suspicion that the assault survivor had wrecked their marriage was wrong. She said that the survivor had not revealed anything to her about Dileep’s extra marital affairs.

Subhash Babu feels that the conspiracy case would collapse if Manju does not stand by the prosecution. He is doubtful whether she will indict Dileep since her daughter is living with him. Members of the film industry also share the concern.

Noted director Baiju Kottarakkara said that the motherly feeling she has towards her daughter may play when Manju stands in the witness box during trial. “We cannot blame her if she does not reveal everything she knows about Dileep as her daughter will be alone if Dileep goes to jail” said Baiju.

However, Advocate Ajay Kumar said there was no reason to doubt Manju as she has always stood for justice. He said that the court may also appreciate her limitations. He said the case will not collapse even if Manju sides with her former husband.

“Manju’s statement is not related to commission of offence. The prosecution needs her statement to support the motive behind the case. The statement of the assault survivor alone is sufficient to prove the motive,” he added.

“There are lot of other witnesses and corroborative evidence with the police to back the conspiracy charge. The first accused himself can turn an approver in the course of the trial. We cannot rule out this possibility since Suni will get a life-term if he is convicted. If he wishes to turn an approver Dileep’s counsels cannot do anything,” he added.

The lawyer said the confidential statements given by a police official, whose mobile phone Suni used to talk to Dileep when he accompanied him to the court, as well as Suni’s jail mate who wrote the letter to Dileep for Suni alone were sufficient to implicate Dileep.

Ajay Kumar said that the witnesses, who have turned hostile, may also not be able to hold their ground when they will be cross-examined by the prosecution. He pointed out that the police had already expressed doubt that they had taken the U turn under the influence of Dileep.

The police took up this in the high court last week when Dileep sought permission to visit Dubai terming the alleged influence of the witnesses as a violation of the bail condition. Viewing the allegation seriously, the court has asked the police to move the magistrate’s court for cancellation of the bail.

However, the police have not made any move to file a petition in this regard. Film industry personnel supporting Dileep said this was because the police had no evidence to support their allegation. Film producer Saji Nambiat, who has been defending Dileep from the beginning, said it was a cooked-up charge with ulterior motives.

He said that the entire case against Dileep is a fabricated one. The trial will prove this, he added.


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Kevin Hart hints at rebooting Mrs Doubtfire after starring in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

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Kevin Hart might be enjoying the positive response to the Jumanji reboot, Jumaji: Welcome To The Jungle, where he is starring alongside Dwayne Johnson and Jack Black, but the internet might be alarmed by his latest musings, a Mrs Doubtfire remake as reported by NME.

Kevin Hart. YouTube

Kevin Hart. YouTube

“I’ll stay on the Robin Williams train and say that if I could jump into Mrs Doubtfire,” said the actor-comedian in an interview to CinemaBlend. “That was a very amazing performance on both ends for him. I think that’s one I’d love to get to play in,” said Hart.

A reboot of the beloved 1995 Robin Williams hit Jumanji, where the characters got sucked into the world of a board game and have to fight for their survival, had Kevin Hart joining a new adventure, where Jumanji is a video game in its 2017 avatar.

However, since Robin Williams passed away recently and has immortalized the character of Mrs Doubtfire, fans of the film might not take kindly to a contemporary reboot of the film. The role will indeed prove very challenging for any actor to convincingly place himself in William’s shoes.

Perhaps, Hart should stay content with the fate of Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle and not worry about remakes of Robin William’s classics, and perhaps take a cue from fellow actor Jack Black who had chosen to pay his homage to William via less grander pronouncements.

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Ed Sheeran says he already has a James Bond track up his sleeve in case MGM wants one

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Ed Sheeran might have faced a surprising Grammy rebuff this year, but the British singer continues to ride high with two of his singles, one with Beyonce and another with Eminem, competing for the top spot just as the year is ending. Amidst all this excitement, the singer-songwriter has revealed that he already has a James Bond song ready to go in his kitty, in case they need him to do one, as reported by the Independent.

Ed Sheeran. Image from Twitter/@PopCrave

Ed Sheeran. Image from Twitter/@PopCrave

Sheeran appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden and discussed the possibility of contributing a track to a future James Bond movie. “With Bond, I’ve had a theme tune written for about three years, just in case,” he said, as reported by the Indepndent.

Even though he has not been approached by the makers of the Bond franchise with such a request yet, he said that the song he has already prepared is good but refused to reveal its name fearing someone might steal it.

Sheeran also said in the same interview that he had used the same approach for his song with Eminem. “When we did a song together, I had the song planned. So with Bond, if ever I’m called I’ll be like ‘here you go’,” said Sheeran.

While a reluctant Daniel Craig had recently confirmed that he is once again playing James Bond in the next film, the now unofficial tradition of a reigning music star to lend a soundtrack to the iconic franchise will continue, but who will be the latest artist to bag this coveted opportunity is not yet known. Sam Smith did the honours in the previous Bond outing and was criticised for a weak track that he had claimed he came up with in 20 minutes.

Ed Sheeran sure seems better prepared if he gets a call to compose the Bond track that might even put the talented artist up for an Oscar, perhaps the only recognition eluding the superstar so far.

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Rose McGowan calls out Meryl Streep, other actresses for planning silent protest at 2018 Golden Globes

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Rose McGowan criticised Meryl Streep and other actresses for allegedly planning a silent protest against sexual harassment at the 75th Golden Globe Awards ceremony in January next year.

Multiple sources told People magazine about the protest being organised by prominent Hollywood actresses — including presenters and nominees and it was later confirmed by Claudia and Jackie Oshry on their show The Morning Breath.

Meryl Streep and Rose McGowan. Agencies

Meryl Streep and Rose McGowan. Agencies

However, McGowan was not particularly happy about the ‘silent’ nature of the protest. She took to Twitter to express her dismay.

She wrote: “Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black @GoldenGlobes in a silent protest. YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should all wear Marchesa.”

She has since deleted the tweet.

McGowan, one of the first actresses to accuse fallen movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of rape, decried what she believed was a pervasive culture of sexual misconduct in Hollywood and urged women to fight back. After leveling her accusations against Weinstein, there has since been a torrent of allegations of sexual harassment, assault and rape against a man who had been one of the most powerful people in the film industry. The New York Times has reported that in 1997, Weinstein reached a $100,000 settlement with McGowan, then 23, after an incident in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival. As the scandal snowballed, McGowan has emerged as one of Weinstein’s most scathing critics.

When Extra asked Streep for a comment, she replied: “I don’t know. I’m not talking. You gotta tune in, don’t ya?”

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