India

Jayalalitha: India court clears ex-Tamil Nadu leader of corruption

jayalalitha Image copyright AFP
Image caption Jayalalitha has been a prominent figure for years, acquiring a reputation for enjoying a lavish lifestyle

An appeals court in India has cleared former chief minister of the southern state of Tamil Nadu Jayaram Jayalalitha of involvement in a corruption scandal.

Ms Jayalalitha was convicted and sentenced for four years by a trial court in September.

She was found guilty of amassing unaccounted-for wealth of more than $10m (£6.4m) and had to quit as the chief minister.

Monday's ruling means she can return as the head of Tamil Nadu government.

Jayalalitha, a former actress, is one of India's most controversial and colourful politicians. She has been a leading figure in south Indian politics for three decades.

"Truth and justice have prevailed," Ms Jayalalitha said in a statement after the court order.

"I am immensely satisfied, the verdict has paved the way for me to emerge as tested pure gold," she added.

As soon as the high court in the southern state of Karnataka announced its verdict on Monday morning, Ms Jayalalitha's supporters began celebrating outside the court in Bangalore.


Jayalalitha: Mercurial personality

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Former actress who appeared in more than 100 films
  • Chief minister of Tamil Nadu on four occasions - from 1991-96, briefly in 2011, 2002-06 and 2011-14
  • Has alternated in power with her great rival, 90-year-old DMK party leader M Karunanidhi
  • Feted by various Indian prime ministers over the last 20 years trying to win her support
  • Critics accuse her of establishing a personality cult, but supporters praise her poverty relief efforts
  • Known for her extravagant lifestyle - police once discovered more than 10,000 saris and 750 pairs of shoes in a raid on her premises

Her supporters outside her home in the southern city of Chennai were seen distributing sweets, shouting slogans and weeping tears of joy.

The high court also cleared three of her aides who were also convicted by the trial court.

The details of Monday's judgment are not yet available. Reports from the courtroom said the judge took "10 seconds" to deliver the verdict.

The conviction last September had cut short her fourth term as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu and she had picked party leader and loyalist O Panneerselvam as her replacement.

Many Indians have taken to social media to criticise Monday's order and #JayaVerdict is the top Twitter trend in the country:

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