Battle not yet over: Keenan's father after Mumbai court's verdict
Four-and-a-half years after the murder of Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes, a Mumbai court has held all four accused in the case guilty, a verdict which brings some amount of closure to the case.
Four-and-a-half years after the murder of Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes, a Mumbai court has held all four accused in the case guilty, a verdict that brings some amount of closure to the case.
The judge also announced the quantum of punishment for the convicts, sentencing them to life imprisonment until death. The men were charged for murder and harassment, among other provisions. This means that they will be in jail for the remainder of their lives.
The four men who have been convicted are Jitendra Rana, Sunil Bodh, Satish Dulgaj and Dipak Tival.
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said that the prosecution examined over 30 witnesses in the case. "We had asked for life imprisonment till death, and the court has accepted our case." Nikam said that the prosecution did not ask for the death penalty.
The father of Keenan, Valerian Santos said that he was very happy with the verdict. "We had asked for life imprisonment till death," he said and hoped that it would send out a message to other 'termites of society'. "However, this is just the beginning...The battle is not over, they might appeal in the higher courts and we have to wait," Santos told media-persons shortly after the verdict.
Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said, "Exemplary punishment in such cases is important. But at the same time, speedy justice is also necessary.
On 20 October, 2011, Keenan and Reuben had visited a restaurant in Amboli with their friends. When they stepped out of the restaurant, a group of drunk men started harassing the girls in their group. Keenan and Reuben jumped to their defence. After the duo objected to the men harassing their friends, they were stabbed repeatedly. While Keenan died on the same day, Reuben succumbed to his injuries 10 days later.
The accused were found to have links with politician Nitish Rane, Narayan Rane's son.
The murders came as a shock in Mumbai, as they took place in a busy area. According to a female member of the group, many eyewitnesses were present, but nobody came forward to help. Priyanka kept calling the cops as Keenan and Reuben battled for their lives, but no one answered her calls.
As mentioned in this article, the murders had become a rallying point for a fight against sexual harassment.
While the Law Commission’s draft report recommends abolishing the death penalty and keeping it only for terror cases, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, said that the death penalty must be retained.