Ex-Star India CEO accused in murder case gripping India

Ex-Star India CEO accused in murder case gripping India
PHOTO: Peter Mukerjea's Twitter page/ Facebook page of Indrani Mukerjea

MUMBAI - One of India's most successful media magnates appeared in court Friday to face initial charges he took part in a criminal conspiracy to murder his stepdaughter.

Peter Mukerjea, a former chief executive of media behemoth Star India, was remanded in custody after being arrested by India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the murder case gripping the country.

A magistrate granted the CBI three days to interrogate Mukerjea, after which the agency will decide whether to formally charge him with involvement in the death of his wife's daughter.

"The court has given us custody of Peter Mukerjea until November 23," a CBI official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

The CBI, India's leading investigative agency, arrested Mukerjea late on Thursday after formally charging his wife Indrani Mukerjea with murdering her daughter from a previous relationship.

Indrani is accused along with her driver and ex-husband of strangling Sheena Bora to death before dumping her body in a forest and setting it alight.

Bora, 22, was murdered in April 2012 and her burnt body was discovered the following month in woods in India's western state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital.

Indrani was arrested in August on suspicion of murdering the young woman, who was having an affair with Peter Mukerjea's son from a previous marriage.

Peter Mukerjea was chief executive of Fox-owned Star India from 1997 to 2007 before leaving to start his own television venture and is seen as one of India's most successful media magnates.

His arrest came as the CBI released a statement saying they had filed charges against Indrani Mukerjea and two others over the murder three years ago.

"The Central Bureau of Investigation has today filed charge sheet in the alleged murder of Ms. Sheena Bora against three private persons, including her mother, on charges of criminal conspiracy, abduction, murder, destruction of evidence, giving false information, creation and use of forged documents etc," the statement said.

The official at the CBI confirmed that the others charged were Indrani's driver Shyam Rai and former husband Sanjeev Khanna.

India's newspapers and TV news channels have been abuzz with details of the scandal since it first broke, with many carrying complex family trees illustrating who's who in the case.

Various motives have been put forward, including a financial dispute over property dealings and a dislike of Bora's relationship with Peter Mukerjea's son, Rahul.

Mumbai police initially registered the case before the CBI took it over in September.

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