Cabbies who murdered Australian woman get life sentenceJuly 10th, 2009 - 8:55 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) A cabbie and his friend who raped and murdered Australian national Emilie Griggs who booked their taxi after landing at Delhi airport five years ago were Friday sentenced to life imprisonment by the Delhi High Court, overturning a lower court’s sentence of death.
The two men - Jyotish Prasad and Ashish Kumar - had been held guilty by the lower court last year of brutally killing the 59-year-old Griggs after criminally assaulting her and robbing her of her belongings and sentenced them to death.
Griggs, who arrived in Delhi from Australia via Hong Kong, was found murdered in a deserted field near the Indira Gandhi International Airport on March 17, 2004, hours after she had taken a pre-paid taxi from the airport. She had come to India to get enrolled in a meditation course. According to the prosecution, Jyotish and Ashish had brutally murdered her and then tried to decamp with her belongings.
Disposing off the appeals by the two taxi drivers against the lower court’s ruling, Justice B.D. Ahmed said: “It is clear that life imprisonment is the rule and death sentence is a rare exception. The Supreme Court has clearly indicated that a death sentence can be imposed only when life imprisonment appears to be an altogether inadequate punishment. We find that the present case does not fall within the category of rarest of the rare cases. Nor are we convinced that life imprisonment would be an altogether inadequate punishment.”
In their separate appeals, the two convicts argued that they had been framed by the police due to the urgency to solve the case as soon as possible because a foreign woman was the victim.
They submitted that the trial court had convicted them on the basis of circumstantial evidence as the investigating agency had failed to collect any direct evidence proving their alleged crime.
“It is difficult for us to accept the plea on the part of the appellants that they have been framed in this case. While it may be true that initially this was thought to be a case of looting and murder and that it is only subsequently that the offence of rape was added, it is clear that their crime had tarnished the image of the country and had an adverse impact on tourism,” said the judgement.
The court also pulled up the lower court judge for awarding death penalty and said: “In making choice of the sentence, in addition to the circumstances of the offence, due regard must be paid to the circumstances of the offender also. Thus, it is clear that each case is different and the trial court, while considering the question of sentence, ought to be concerned about the facts and circumstances of the case before and not with other cases having similar or similar-looking facts.
“The court is required to draw up a balance-sheet of aggravating and mitigating factors, if it contemplates the imposition of the extreme penalty.”
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