Ten of 14 people accused of the murder of a young Christian man were found guilty by a Kerala court today, in a shocking incident that the court slammed as a case of "dishonour killing". The victim, 23-year-old Kevin, had wanted to marry a Christian woman but faced objections from her family because he belonged to the Dalit community. He was kidnapped two days after applying for a registered marriage and found dead the following day.
The young man's death triggered widespread protests in the state, particularly since the victim's kin alleged the police refused to conduct an investigation on the basis of the woman's complaint. Two police officials have been suspended and a senior official has been transferred over those alleged lapses.
The quantum of sentence for the accused will be pronounced on August 24.
On May 25, Kevin and his to-be-wife were at a registrar's office in Ettumanoor in Kottayam district. Two days later, Kevin and a relative, were kidnapped from Mannaman, in the same district, by a gang of men that included the woman's brother.
A day after, his body was found in a rivulet in Chaliyakkara in Kollam district.
The woman's brother Sanu was the prime accused in the case. Her father Chacko was listed as the fifth accused, but was eventually one of the four acquitted.
All 14 accused had been arrested less than a month after Kevin's body was found.
The woman Kevin was to marry was a witness in the case and testified that her family had been opposed to her choice of partner. She continued to live with Kevin's family after his death, and is now studying in another state.
Reacting to the court's verdict, Kevin's father, Joseph, said he was unhappy with four accused being acquitted.
"I will react after the sentence is announced on Saturday. I am not happy with four accused being let off, including the woman's father. All of them have a role in the death of my son," he told reporters.