NEW DELHI, February 19 (RAPSI) – The government of Tamil Nadu in southern India on Wednesday said it had decided to release all seven convicts in the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Indian media report on Wednesday.

The day before, the Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of three of the seven convicts to life in prison. Their lawyers sent a plea for a pardon to the Indian president in 2000, but after 11 years it was rejected.

The three convicts, Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan, could be also released if the Tamil Nadu government grants them remission, the court ruled. According to a court statement, the original sentence was reduced due to “inordinate and inexplicable” delays in carrying out the executions.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms. Jayalalithaa said on Wednesday: “Considering that they have spent over 23 years in prison, the cabinet decided to immediately release Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan under the powers vested with the state government.”

She added that since the case was investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, it was mandatory for the state government to consult the centre on its decision. “If the Centre fails to respond in three days, my government will release them [the convicts] immediately,” she said.

According to the Indian media, the government of the ruling AIADMK political party released the convicts to win the electorate’s support at the parliamentary elections that are to be held by the end of May 2014.

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. Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991, near Chennai in southeast India.

He was killed by a woman who greeted him with a garland and a bomb strapped to her chest. She is believed to have been a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a group that fought for the right to create an independent Tamil state in northern Sri Lanka. Gandhi was targeted after he sent Indian troops to Sri Lanka to fight the separatists in 1987.

Gandhi's assassins were sentenced to death by a court in January 1998. The sentence was confirmed by the high court in May 1999.

A large part of the Tamil Nadu population supports the Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka.