Kakkanad: Prakasan Thampi, an accused in the gold smuggling case, has told the Crime Branch that it was driver Arjun who was at the wheel of musician Balabhaskar's car when it met with the accident. Latest forensic report also confirms Thampi's statement.
According to Thampi, Arjun had made this revelation to him in hospital, where the latter was undergoing treatment.
Arjun also told Thampi that the accident took place as he fell asleep while driving.
When Thampi asked Arjun why he had changed his statement and indicated that Balabhaskar was in the driver's seat during the mishap, there was no reply.
Thampi's statements were recorded at Kakkanad jail. It was after the arrest of Thampi, who had been Balabhaskar's programme coordinator, in a gold smuggling case that the probe into the musician's death widened.
According to Crime Branch officials, Thampi had told them that he had collected the CCTV visuals from a shop at Pallimukku in Kollam from where Balabhaskar and Arjun had juice while travelling to Thiruvananthapuram. Thampi gave his statement to the Crime Branch soon after the agency took over the probe.
The CCTV visuals were collected to figure out who was really at the wheel after there was a dispute over the matter, said Thampi. However, the visuals revealed nothing and they were returned to the shop, he added.
Balabhaskar's car had stopped at Pallimukku while heading to the state capital from Guruvayur. Thampi said he collected the hard disk of the CCTV visuals with the help of Nizam, a friend of the shop owner Shamnad.
However, Shamnad told the media that he had handed over the visuals only to the Crime Branch.
Balabhaskar’s wife Lakshmi had told the Crime Branch as well as the local police that Arjun was driving the car during the mishap.
But Arjun's statement to the police claimed that Balabhaskar was at the wheel.
Thampi said he collected the CCTV visuals to verify Lakshmi’s version.
Meanwhile, the Crime Branch has sent the hard disk to the forensic lab to recover the relevant visuals.
Forensic report clears doubt
The much-awaited forensic report too has confirmed that driver Arjun was at the wheel on the day of the ill-fated accident which took the lives of Balabhaskar and his infant daughter. The confirmation was made after examining the injuries on Arjun's body and the car involved in the accident.
The report has been handed over by the medical college forensic authorities to the Crime Branch DySP K Harikrishnan. The investigation team has confirmed that this scientifically validates that Arjun drove the car on the night of the accident.
Balabhaskar’s vehicle met with an accident at Pallippuram in the early hours of September 25 last year. The musician was returning to the state capital from Guruvayur temple when the tragedy occurred.