The court, which had held the duo guilty of the rape and murder on December 2, didn’t accept the prosecution’s plea to consider it “a rarest of rare case” and hand them capital punishment.
In the event of the convicts defaulting on payment of the fine, they will undergo rigorous imprisonment of six years and a month and simple imprisonment of 10 months. The sentences will run concurrently, the judge said.
Of the Rs 3.42 lakh that the convicts are required to pay, Rs 2 lakh will go to the victim’s sister, who waged a long battle for justice and was in Thiruvananthapuram for the trial until her visa lapsed. The court allowed the proceedings on the day of the verdict to be livestreamed for her.
Before the sentencing, Umesh and Udayakumar had pleaded innocence one last time.
Special public prosecutor G Mohanraj termed the verdict “apt” while the defence counsel maintained that there was no authentic proof that the convicts were involved in the crime. The defence is likely to challenge the verdict.
The prosecution had faced multiple challenges in establishing that the duo raped and murdered the convict as there were no witnesses and collecting scientific evidence from a decomposed body was difficult. The body was found 38 days after the crime, after which the forensic team couldn’t find traces of semen to prove rape.
The investigators and the prosecution relied on circumstantial evidence to prove that the convicts had taken the victim to a mangrove to drug, rape and murder her. The 33-year-old Latvian had been reported missing on March 14, 2018. Her decomposed body was recovered from a mangrove at Panathura on April 20.