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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

Kopardi rape and murder: Do these young convicts deserve lifers instead of death?

Defence lawyers cite age, poor families, ill-health of parents as reasons why court should show leniency

pune Updated: Nov 22, 2017 15:28 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
Two of the accused in the Kopardi case being brought to court earlier during the trial.
Two of the accused in the Kopardi case being brought to court earlier during the trial. (HT Photo)

Defence lawyers for the two convicts in the Kopardi rape and murder case, on Tuesday, sought life sentences instead of capital punishment for the accused, during arguments on the quantum of sentence at the sessions court in Ahmednagar.

Arguing for convict number three, Nitin Bhailume, defence lawyer Prakash Aher said his client is a college-going student from a poor family. “His mother is suffering from various ailments and his father is a daily-wage labourer. In such circumstances, I request the court to show leniency to my client,” Aher said.

Besides Bhailume, Jitendra Shinde and Santosh G. Bhaval were, on November 18, convicted by sessions judge Suvarna Kevale, on various charges for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Kopardi, around 120 kilometers from Pune, last year.

The incident triggered massive protests across the state with the Maratha community coming out on to the streets in large numbers.

Advocate Yohan Makasare, arguing for Shinde, convict number one, said his client should also be given a life sentence rather than death penalty. Arguments by counsel for Bhaval and the public prosecutor’s response will take place on Wednesday, following which the judge is likely to pronounce the quantum of sentence.

The victim was returning home in the evening from her grandfather’s house when the trio grabbed her at an isolated location and committed the crime, according to the 350-page chargesheet in the case.

The protest galvanised Marathas against the Dalit community, as the accused are Dalits. While the agitation was largely peaceful, Dalits came under attack at a few places in Nashik .

The protest forced the government to appoint Ujjwal Nikam as special public prosecutor and fast track the case. According to the prosecution, there were 24 circumstantial evidences produced before the court during the course of trial.

“We thank the public prosecutor, chief minister and the entire Maratha community for their efforts in bringing the accused to books. We expect the convicts to be awarded capital punishment,” said the mother of the victim, after the court verdict.

First Published: Nov 21, 2017 17:20 IST

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