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Indian couple get life for killing daughter and servant

Supporters say conviction was based on hearsay

<p>Candles are lit to remember murdered teenager Aarushi Talwar. </p>

Candles are lit to remember murdered teenager Aarushi Talwar. 

  • Swati Deb, New Delhi
  • India
  • November 27, 2013
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An Indian court sentenced a couple to life in prison on Tuesday for killing their teenage daughter and a Nepalese servant, in a case that gripped the nation and attracted intense media coverage.

Dentists Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were convicted on Monday for the double slaying and destroying evidence.

Prosecutors had called for the death sentence.

Their only daughter Aarushi Talwar, 14, was found dead in her bedroom with her throat slit on May 16, 2008.

Initial suspicion fell on the servant Hemraj Banjade until his badly beaten body was discovered a day later on the terrace of the family home in the plush Noida suburb of New Delhi.

Police said the girl’s father murdered them after catching them in what they described as a “compromising situation”.

Because of the couple’s social standing the case immediately attracted intense publicity with every development being closely followed by the media.

The couple, who denied the killings, say the coverage compromised their defense. They claim they were asleep in another bedroom when their daughter was murdered.

Their supporters and legal experts, however, say the couple was convicted on hearsay and circumstantial evidence after vital forensic evidence was lost during two botched investigations by both local and federal investigators.

"The prosecution depended on circumstantial evidence, and the couple’s failure to explain the murders has been used to convict them," said Hemkumar Mishra, a criminal lawyer.

The Central Bureau of Investigation, India’s top investigatory body, however, said there were too many circumstances uncovered which proved that no one else could have committed the crime.

In one such example, prosecutors had alleged that the way Aarushi’s throat was slit required medical knowledge.

Defense lawyers remain unconvinced and say the couple will appeal afainst the sentence.

"The battle is far from over. We will file an appeal in higher courts and the ruling will be overturned,” Tanvir Ahmed Mir told ucanews.com.

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