x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Four charged with Dubai family murders

Police in India investigating the murders of a Dubai family say four people have been charged with the killings.

Police in India investigating the murders of a Dubai family said yesterday they had solved the case after four people were charged with the killings. A couple related to the family and two young men had confessed to the crimes, officers said. All were in police custody last night. Kadali Prasad, his wife Vijayalakshmi, son Ketan, 14, and daughter Kavita, 10, were found strangled at a budget lodge in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, last Friday, sparking a statewide search for the killers. Mr Prasad, an engineer for Dubai Petroleum, had lived in the UAE for more than 20 years.

Police said yesterday that the murders were over a financial dispute between the accused couple, Abraham John and Madhavi, and Mr Prasad's family. The couple were distant relatives of Mr Prasad. The dispute is being investigated by police but family sources said it concerned an insurance claim that had matured. The couple are accused of planning the murders and hiring Kranti Kiran Rathod and Kare Pradeep Kumar, both under 25, to help carry them out in return for cash.

K Ramachandran, assistant commissioner of Hyderabad Police, said the arrests were officially recorded at noon yesterday. He said the couple booked two rooms at the RAK Royal Lodge and invited the Prasad family there to solve the dispute, though they intended to kill them. The men were with Mr Prasad in one room while Madhavi was with Mrs Prasad and the children in the other. "They pushed Mr Prasad against the wall causing a head injury, then they strangled him," said Mr Ramachandran. The wife and the children were strangled after that, he said. The four then allegedly fled.

Records of phone calls made by Mr Prasad and other evidence found at the lodge led to the arrests. Police ruled out the involvement of a land mafia - a criminal network of officials, politicians and business people - in the murders, which had been claimed by relatives of the Prasads. The relatives said yesterday that police had used film from closed- circuit television from different locations to help them keep track of the suspects.

The Prasad family lived in Al Bustan Tower in Al Nahda on the Dubai-Sharjah road. Neighbours spoke yesterday of their shock at the murders. "They were such simple people, we never expected this," said the owner of a grocery shop in the building. "They never mingled with anyone and did not have any friends." A security guard in the building said Mr Prasad's car was still parked there and the family's home remained locked. No friends or relatives had been to clear their belongings.

Mr Prasad was in his late 40s and his wife in her late 30s. The family was cremated on Sunday evening and several religious rituals were performed by relatives on Monday. The family had been on holiday in India since the end of July and were expected to return to Dubai on August 14. However, they extended their stay after Mr Prasad's nephew committed suicide. They moved into the lodge last Thursday. Hotel staff called police on Friday after they noticed a bad smell coming from the family's room, which was locked from the outside.

The body of Mr Prasad was found in a corridor. His wife and children were found on a bed. Among the items at the scene were the family's tickets for their return journey to Dubai, which had been booked for that day. pmenon@thenational.ae