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Men who raped, murdered then hanged two Indian sisters from tree get life sentence

Nearly a year after the gruesome rape and murder of two sisters who were found hanging from a tree in a village in India’s Uttar Pradesh, two men were on Monday sentenced to life imprisonment, local media reported.

The men were convicted last Friday by a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) court for their involvement in the crime that was uncovered on Sept 14, 2022, when the bodies of the girls, both minors aged 17 and 15, were discovered.

Police investigations concluded that six suspects had abducted the sisters from their home hours before raping and strangling them, then hanging their bodies from a tree to make it look like they had killed themselves.

The victims were from a family of Dalits, the lowest rung in India’s archaic caste system.

On Monday, a Pocso court judge said the two men’s life sentences would “run until their last breath”, finding them guilty of kidnapping, gang rape of a woman younger than 16, murder and voluntarily causing hurt, among others. Each of them was also fined 46,000 rupees (S$750).

Two others were on Monday sentenced to six years in prison, in addition to a 5,000 rupee fine each for causing the disappearance of evidence.

The trials of the remaining two connected to the crime will be held separately. Both are minors aged below 18, with one of them younger than 16 to be tried before a juvenile justice board.

The six were arrested less than a day after the sisters’ bodies were found hanging from an acacia tree in a sugarcane field in Tamoli Purva village, around 200km away from Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state in northern India.

A district government prosecutor told The Times of India that investigators had produced multiple pieces of evidence, in addition to statements from 15 witnesses, to expedite the trial.