Kerala: Indian men jailed for rape and murder of Latvian tourist


A court in India has sentenced two men to life imprisonment for the rape and murder of a Latvian tourist in 2018.

The 33-year-old woman, who was travelling with her sister, went missing from a resort in the southern state of Kerala on 14 March 2018.

Her body was recovered 38 days later from an isolated mangrove in the city of Kovalam.

Two men, one a tourist guide, were arrested for raping and killing her.

A sessions court in the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram (formerly Trivandrum), found them guilty on Tuesday.

The court, which began the trial six months ago, observed that Umesh, 32, and Udayakumar, 28, lured the Latvian tourist with marijuana and “drugged her heavily” before raping her.

Both of them were also convicted for the sale and abuse of banned substances under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

The court said that the men would remain in jail “until the end of their biological life”.

Even though the police said the accused had admitted to their crime, the men denied it and pleaded not guilty in court.

Watching the court proceedings online from Dublin was the victim’s sister who had launched an online search campaign after the police failed to locate her.

The sisters had travelled together to Kerala – a popular tourist destination – to seek treatment at a traditional Ayurveda healing centre.

On 21 April, two fishermen found the woman’s decomposed body with her head severed at a nearby forest.

Scrutiny of sexual violence in India has grown since the 2012 gangrape and murder of a young woman on a Delhi bus.

The brutal crime led to massive outrage in the country and forced the government to introduce tougher anti-rape laws, including the death penalty in rare cases.

But critics say that despite all the media coverage and new laws, there has been no let up in the number of sexual crimes against women.

Source: BBC