The duo convicted for the Latvian woman's murder will remain in jail till their biological life ends. There will be no parole.
An illegal tourist guide and a drug peddler were sentenced to life imprisonment without remission or commutation until their last breath by an Additional District Sessions Court in the Kerala capital Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, 6 December.
The duo were convicted of drugging, raping and murdering a Latvian woman who arrived in Kerala four years ago for Ayurveda treatment. Each of them was directed to pay fines of ₹1.65 lakh.
Going by Supreme Court orders of similar nature, life imprisonment without remission till the last breath can be considered a substitution for the death sentence.
While awarding the punishment, the court reiterated that both the accused must undergo jail term till their biological life ends, and there would be no parole.
It also ordered that the amount recovered from the accused be handed over to the deceased woman’s sister.
The court agreed with the argument of the prosecution that it was the sister’s determination and will power that provided a new lease of life to the case and the present verdict owes much to her.
On finding lags in the initial phase of the probe and subsequent trial, the sister had approached the Kerala High Court requesting to speed up matters. She also cooperated with the investigation team to ensure all loopholes were covered.
On hearing the verdict delivered by Judge K Sanilkumar, the first accused, B Umesh (32), of Thuruthi Veettil near Vellar, and the second accused, R Udayakumar (28), of Vadakkekoonam Thuruthi Veettil in Thiruvallam, were visibly upset.
On its part, the prosecution termed the verdict apt and more severe than capital punishment.
The defence counsel has contended in court that the accused were innocent and there was not enough proof to establish that they were involved in the crime.
South First has learnt that the accused will challenge the verdict in a higher court.
The police and prosecution had a challenging task proving the case as there were no direct eyewitnesses to the gory incident.
The body of the Latvian woman was recovered 38 days after the crime, and the forensic team could not collect sperm from the decomposed body to prove the rape charge.
The body was found in an isolated island-like mangrove at Panathura in the vicinity of famous Kovalam beach, and the investigation team and prosecution raised the simple point in court that a foreign woman could not have reached the spot without anyone’s help.
The prosecution used bits of 18 circumstantial evidence and the statements of corroborative witnesses.
There were tense moments for the prosecution when two witnesses in the case, a chemical examiner and a woman, turned hostile. However, the prosecution and the probe team managed to convince the court that the accused drugged, raped and murdered the woman.
The 33-year-old Latvian national had reached Kerala for ayurvedic treatment and went missing from Kovalam on March 14, 2018.
Later, her decomposed body was retrieved from the mangrove at Panathura on April 20. The case was investigated, and a charge sheet was submitted by DSP Dinil JK, the then assistant commissioner of police.