Indian MP and former UN diplomat Shashi Tharoor charged with abetting suicide of wife

Indian parliamentarian and former UN diplomat Shashi Tharoor was charged with "abetment of suicide" and subjecting his wife to cruelty under the Penal Code. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI - Indian parliamentarian and former UN diplomat Shashi Tharoor was charged on Monday (May 14) with abetting the suicide of his wife more than four years after she was found dead under mysterious circumstances in a five-star hotel room.

The Delhi Police charged Tharoor with "abetment of suicide'' and subjecting his wife Sunanda Pushkar to cruelty under the Penal Code.

Local media reports, citing the chargesheet, said the police had concluded that Ms Pushkar "was being harassed for long'' and "her medical records show she was suffering from depression."

Tharoor, 62, denied the charges, calling them "preposterous''.

"I have taken note of the filing of this preposterous charge sheet & intend to contest it vigorously. No one who knew Sunanda believes she would ever have committed suicide, let alone abetment on my part," he wrote on Twitter yesterday.

"In Oct 17, the Law Officer made a statement in the Delhi High Court that they have not found anything against anyone & now in 6 months they say that I have abetted a suicide. unbelievable!'' he wrote.

The Congress party said it stood by Tharoor and denounced "this politically motivated charge sheet".

MP Subramanian Swamy from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, who said he was assisting the prosecutor, said Mr Tharoor could face 10 years in jail. The court will start hearings on May 24.

Ms Pushkar, 52, was found dead on Jan 17, 2014 by Tharoor, who was a minister in the then Congress government.

Her death took place 24 hours after a very public row on Jan 16 in which she accused Tharoor of having an extra marital affair and launched a Twitter attack on Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar. On Jan 15, the couple also had a bitter spat on a flight from Kerala to Delhi

They appeared to have reconciled before Ms Pushkar's death, issuing a statement saying all was well between them.

Married in 2010, the high-profile couple were often at social events in the early part of their marriage. Ms Pushkar was a business woman formerly based in Dubai.

Early investigations had suggested that Ms Pushkar ingested or was injected with poison. The police filed a murder case in 2015 without naming anyone. Mr Tharoor at the time had accused the police of trying to frame him even though he was not named.

Tharoor, who is also an author, had served as executive assistant to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and was director of communications and special projects at the UN. He campaigned for the post of UN chief in 2006 but lost to South Korean Ban Ki Moon.

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