Ten found guilty in honour killing in Kerala

Kevin Joseph, 23, was murdered by his wife Neenu Chacko's brother and friends in May 2018.

Ten persons have been found guilty of various charges including murder in a case of honour killing in Kerala.

Kevin Joseph, 23, was murdered by his wife Neenu Chacko's brother and friends in May 2018. Though Neenu's father was also an arraigned in the case, he was acquitted by the court. The sentence in the case, considered as the first honour killing case in Kerala, would be pronounced by the Kottayam district principal sessions court on Saturday.

Kevin, who hailed from a Dalit Christian family in Kottayam, was murdered after he married Neenu Chacko, whom he met during studies in Kottayam. Neenu's father who hailed from the Latin Catholic community strongly opposed the relationship. A day after their marriage was registered on May 25, 2018, Kevin was abducted by a gang led by Neenu's brother Sanu Chacko. His body was found in a river near Thenmala in Kollam district on May 28.

The court found Sanu and nine others guilty of murder and various other criminal charges. Neenu's father Chacko and four others were acquitted by the court for want of evidence. The strong statements of Neenu that his relatives had made casteist remarks against Kevin during mediation efforts were key aspects in confirming that it was an honour killing. The court also considered the case as rarest of rare.

The others found guilty were Niyas Mon, Ishan Ismail, Riyaz Ibrahimkutty, Manu Muraleedharan, Shifin Sajad, N Nishad, Fazil Sherif, Shanu Shajahan and Tittu Gerome. Apart from murder, they were also found guilty of abduction, conspiracy and destruction of evidence.

Neenu is now under the care of Kevin's father Joseph. Though they expressed satisfaction that ten were found guilty, they also felt that the four acquitted had a role in the crime. They are also expecting maximum punishment to those found guilty.

The case had rocked Kerala after Neenu and Kevin's parents raised serious allegations that the local police did not initiate any steps to trace Kevin even after they complained that Kevin was abducted. The version of some local police personnel that they were busy with the Chief Minister's security also triggered controversy. Disciplinary actions were also initiated against police officials of the lapses.

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