MOSCOW, February 18 (RAPSI) -  The Supreme Court of India commuted the death sentences of the three convicted killers of the former prime minister of India, Ranjiv Gandhi, to life terms, NDTV reports.

Tamil Nadu separatists, Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan, were found guilty of the murder and sentenced to death in 1991. In 2000, their attorneys filed a petition for pardon with the president that was officially rejected 11 years later.

According to a court statement, the original sentence was reduced due to “inordinate and inexplicable” delays in carrying out the executions. The convicts could still be released if their punishment is mitigated by the government of Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court states.

Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister of India between 1984 and 1989. He stepped down after the Indian National Congress party lost the election as a result of a major corruption scandal involving Swedish military contractor Bofors paying kickbacks to Gandhi and several other officials for winning a bid to supply India’s military with field howitzers. The ex-prime minister was assassinated during a terrorist attack on May 21, 1991, near Chennai in southeast India. In 1998, the court convicted 28 conspirators of Gandhi’s assassination.