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7 convicts in Rajiv Gandhi killing may be freed: state

CHENNAI, India--An Indian state ruled Wednesday that seven men serving life sentences for the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi should be freed because they have served more than 20 years in prison.

Critics immediately slammed the decision by Tamil Nadu state, where the men are serving their sentences, saying it was an attempt to win over Tamil voters in this year's national elections.

Rajiv Gandhi was killed by an ethnic Tamil suicide bomber in May 1991 as he campaigned for a return to the post of prime minister. He was 47 years old. Seventeen other people, including the bomber, also were killed in the attack.

The federal government must approve the state's decision before the men can be released. But Jayaram Jayalalitha, Tamil Nadu's top elected official, said she would wait only three days.

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