Pune Crime: Three men gang-rape and murdered 14-year-old, convicted
After court convicts three accused in brutal rape and murder of 14-year-old girl in Kopardi last year; her mother demands capital punishment; sentencing on November 22
"I am happy with the court verdict and want to see all the accused hanged till death, as that is the only fitting punishment for their brutal crime," said the tearful mother of the 14-year-old girl who was brutally gang-raped and murdered by three men in Kopardi village last year. The incident had triggered massive protests across Maharashtra and hence the case was tried before special judge Suvarna Kewale. The police had filed a 350-page charge sheet in the case. On Saturday, the three accused in the rape and murder were found guilty by a court in Ahmednagar. The sentencing will happen on November 22.
Kopardi residents outside the court in Ahmednagar
The heinous crime
On July 13, 2016, when a Std IX student did not come home till late in the evening, her parents and villagers went looking for her. They found her body under a tree. Her genitals were mutilated, her hair pulled out and her hands had been dislocated from the shoulders. She had been strangled to death after the rape. The accused were identified as Santosh Bhawal, 30, Jitendra Shinde, 25, and Nitin Bhailume, 26, and they were arrested on July 15. Following the incident, the Maratha community took to the streets to protest in Akola, Nanded, Beed, Osmanabad, Aurangabad, Jalgaon and Jalna districts. These protests were carried out for over a month. On two occasions, the accused were beaten up on the court premises by a mob.
The three accused: Jitendra Shinde, Nitin Bhailume and Santosh Bhawal
31 witnesses questioned
The state had appointed special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam to handle the case. A total of 31 prosecution witnesses were examined, including the girl's mother, sister, friends, dentist and forensic experts. On Saturday, the trio was brought to Ahmednagar sessions court around 8 am and more than 100 policemen were deployed in and around the court. For the first time in Maharashtra, the entire proceedings in the case have been audio recorded.
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