Talwar Murder Case: Indian Couple Could Get Death Penalty

Image: Talwar Murder Case: Indian Couple Could Get Death Penalty

Tuesday, 26 Nov 2013 09:44 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Nupur and Rajesh Talwar, the Indian dentist couple, were convicted Monday of killing their 13-year-old daughter and a domestic helper could receive the death penalty Tuesday.

NDTV reported that the couple broke down when the verdict was read. They were convicted in the death of daughter Aarushi and domestic helper Hemraj in May 2008.

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After five years since the deaths, the investigation of the Talwars has reached celebrity trial status in India, with India's Central Bureau of Investigation calling for the death penalty.

"We are deeply disappointed, hurt and anguished for being convicted for a crime that we have not committed," the couple said in a statement after the verdict. "We refuse to feel defeated and will continue to fight for justice."

Although there is no physical or forensic evidence connecting the Talwars to the murders, the CBI built its case on the "last-seen theory," which the victims were last seen with the Talwars.

Nupur Talwar told NDTV that the family was together the evening of May 15, 2008. The next morning, the Talwars said that they found Aarushi dead. Rajesh Talwar told the local police that Hemraj was missing. The Nepalese domestic helper was found dead hours later.

CBI spokesman R.K. Saini defended criticism of the agency for pursuing the case with circumstantial evidence.

"There were so many circumstances that proved that no one could have committed the murder other than the two accused," Saini told Reuters. "The court has convicted them after going through the chain of circumstantial evidence."

The Talwar's attorney Rebecca John said she is preparing to appeal the ruling.

Dipankar Gupta, a sociologist at Shiv Nadar University in Uttar Pradesh, told Reuters he believed the case shines a light on the longtime problem of abuse against domestic helpers in wealthy households.

"But at least now there is some progress and people are talking about it," Gupta said.

Indian media highlighted in November a case in which the wife of a member of parliament was charged with allegedly torturing a maid to death in Delhi.

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