Kopardi rape-murder case: all 3 accused get death sentence

Kopardi rape-murder case: all 3 accused get death sentence

Nearly 16 months after the brutal rape and murder of a minor girl at Kopardi village, a special fast track court on Wednesday sentenced to death three convicts.

Following the rape and murder on July 13, 2016, at Kopardi — nearly 300 km from Mumbai—there were widespread protests and rallies.

The protesters main demands were reservation for the Maratha community and capital punishment for the accused in the case, among other things.

The matter had also rocked the monsoon session of Maharashtra legislature when the BJP-Shiv Sena government, particularly Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds the home portfolio, came under attack from the Opposition.

The trial was conducted by Additional Sessions Judge Suvarna Kevale, who presided over the special fast track court.

The three accused are Jitendra alias Pappu Babulal Shinde (26), Santosh Gorkha Bhawal (30) and Nitin Gopinath Bhailume (28), and they were convicted on November 18. They can now appeal before the Bombay High Court.

"All the accused have been sentenced to death," special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said.  The victim's parents broke down as soon as the verdict was pronounced and were inconsolable.

"The verdict is a tribute to my daughter. We have waited every day for this," said the victim's as tears rolled down his eyes.

"The verdict should be a message and a deterrent," said victim's mother, who was inconsolable.

The family thanked Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Nikam and the police who stood by them.  "We have one and all…the entire Maratha samaj, entire Maharashtra who stood by us," they said.

This incident is often compared to the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case of Delhi because of the brutality, with medical reports suggesting that there was an extreme level of violence.

Cutting across party lines, political leaders have welcomed the verdict.

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