Wayanad: The special investigation team probing the Muttil tree cutting case has submitted an 84,600-page charge sheet at the Sulthan Bathery Chief Judicial Magistrate Court. The charge sheet has been submitted after two years of investigation. The investigation into the Muttil tree cutting case has the distinction of using DNA testing on trees for the first time in the country.
The charge sheet names 12 persons as the accused in the case. It includes Roji Augustine, Anto Augustine and Josutty Augustine as the main culprits in the case. The other accused are former Village Officer of Muttil South Village, KK Aji and Special Officer Sindhu.
If proven guilty, all the accused could face a prison time of seven years with penalty. There are 420 witnesses named in the charge sheet.
The case involves the cutting of trees and selling them off under the cover of a 2020 Government Order. While the Government Order had specifically mandated that trees that were planted since 1964 could be cut, the accused cut and sold off trees that were much older than the stipulated time limit.
The DNA test conducted on the felled trees found that the accused had cut protected trees that were as old as 574 years. The police pointed the DNA test results as the major evidence in the charge sheet.