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Rapist-murderer of children to hang in rare case after India’s Supreme Court dismisses appeal

Rapist-murderer of children to hang in rare case after India’s Supreme Court dismisses appeal
Almost a decade after two men abducted, raped and killed two children in the Indian city of Coimbatore, death sentence passed on the surviving perpetrator got ultimate confirmation by the nation’s top court.

R Manoharan is to die by hanging after the three-judge court dismissed in full on Thursday his petition to review his death sentence. In a 2:1 vote, the court ruled death is more appropriate punishment than a life behind bars for the “shocking” and “cold-blooded” crimes he had committed.

The October 2010 case horrified India with the callous brutality of Manoharan and his accomplice, Mohanakrishnan. The latter, who worked as a taxi driver, abused the trust of the wealthy Jain family, which occasionally used his services when their regular driver was not available.

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Mohanakrishnan picked up two siblings, the 7-year-old brother Hrithik and the 10-year-old sister Muskan, ostensibly to take them to school. But the two men, who were both 23 at the time, abducted the siblings for ransom.

But they apparently got cold feet and, instead, decided to get rid of the children, but not before raping the little girl. They then gave them poisoned milk, which failed to kill the siblings, and later tied them up and dumped into a canal, killing the battered helpless victims by drowning.

Both men were quickly identified and arrested, but only Manoharan ever stood before the court for the crimes. His accomplice was shot and killed by the police in early November, when he was brought to the crime scene and reportedly tried to escape.

The surviving killer-rapist was sentenced to death in 2012, and remained on the death row since as his appeals went up the judicial branch. It reached the Supreme Court in August this year.

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Capital punishment was kept by India’s penal code after the nation became independent, with the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi and one of his co-conspirators becoming the first to be hanged in 1949. Deaths sentences have only rarely led to executions in the past decades, even less so for crimes not related to terrorism. The only such person to be executed in the 21st century was a convicted rapist of a 14-year-old girl, who was hanged in West Bengal in 2004.

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