Court finds Indian man guilty of using cobra to kill his wife

·2-min read
File: An Indian snake handler shows a cobra to locals during an awareness camp (EPA)
File: An Indian snake handler shows a cobra to locals during an awareness camp (EPA)

A man from India’s southern state of Kerala was found guilty of killing his 25-year-old wife last year using a venomous cobra.

An additional sessions court in the state’s Kollam district pronounced the accused, identified only as Sooraj, guilty of murder on Monday.

The man had allegedly “hired” two snakes through a snake catcher and had unleashed them on his wife, identified only as Uthra, twice in a span of months.

The first time, in March 2020, Uthra sustained injuries after she was bitten by a viper at her husband’s home in Adoor town, located in the Pathanamthitta district.

On 7 May, Uthra was found dead at her own home in Anchal town in Kollam district. Initial reports found the cause of her death to be a snakebite.

Following her death, Uthra's family filed a police complaint suspecting wrongdoing. The family claimed Uthra was subjected to harassment by the groom’s family over dowry payments.

Sooraj was later arrested on charges of murdering his wife and his parents and sister were charged for domestic violence.

After the arrest, the accused in July confessed to the crime and said he had sedated Uthra with sleeping pills and let out a cobra to attack her.

The accused meticulously planned the crime and had released both the viper and the cobra to kill his wife, according to the police.

In March, he had ensured the viper attacked Uthra. The snakebite had kept her bedridden for 52 days, because of which she was forced to get plastic surgery.

She returned home in May, but days after her recovery Sooraj released the cobra at Uthra’s house, which bit and killed her.

During the investigation, a postmortem and DNA analysis of the snake were conducted by the crime branch. The police also conducted a “dummy” test in September 2021 to recreate the scene of the crime.

The motive behind the crime is believed to be money, according to the police. Although Sooraj had received some money and gold at the time of getting married, he was not content.

Police claimed the accused never showed any sense of guilt throughout the trial period.

“We perceive Sooraj as a seasoned criminal without any guilt. He never admitted anything more than the evidence we presented. He gave statements in a calculated manner,” S Harisankar, a police superintendent, was quoted as saying by The News Minute.

The court found him guilty under four sections of the Indian Penal Code, including for murder and causing hurt to extort property. The sentence will be given on 13 October.

Prosecutor G Mohanraj, during Monday's hearing, asked the magistrate to consider this a “rarest of rare” crime and asked that Sooraj be given the death penalty.

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