A tour guide and a drug peddler have been given life imprisonment for the rape and murder of a Lativian woman in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
Liga Skromane, 33, who lived in Ireland, traveled to Kerala with her sister to seek ayurvedic treatment to cure depression.
She went missing from a resort near the coastal town of Kovalam on 14 March 2018. Her sister Ilze said Skromane went to buy cigarettes, but never returned.
Her decaying and decapitated body was found after 38 days by two fishermen in a forest nearly 30km away from the wellness resort where she was staying.
A sessions court in state capital Thiruvananthapuram pronounced Umesh, 31, and 28-year-old Udayakumar guilty of rape, murder, abduction and sale of narcotic substance.
The court observed that both the men lured the Latvian tourist with marijuana and “drugged her heavily” before raping and strangling her.
Judge K Sanil Kumar ordered that the accused will serve a prison sentence until death and will not be eligible for remission or parole.
Both the men have been fined Rs 165,000 (£1,640) each, which the court said will be directed to the family of the victim.
The convicts pleaded not guilty to the crime in court and reportedly demanded a polygraph test to prove their innocence after the pronouncement of the verdict.
Skromane’s disappearance triggered outrage in India after her sister took it upon herself to find her.
Ms Ilze filed a missing person complaint with the local police and went to several locations to trace her sister while declaring a reward for information.
Special public prosecutor G Mohan Raj called the verdict an “exemplary judgment”.
“The case fulfilled more than one parameter that the Supreme Court had laid down to judge a case as rarest of the rare,” he was quoted by The New Indian Express as saying.
“The verdict will have a strong deterrence effect and is a better punishment than death. We are satisfied over the judgment.”
Prior to the conviction, Skromane’s partner Andrew Jordan said the trial had “stirred many emotions”.
“Relief in some parts that light is shed on dark deeds, sorrow for her family’s broken hearts, bitterness towards those responsible, love for the brave souls who are fighting the good fight, and the one who went down fighting,” he told Irish Mirror.