GHAZIABAD 2013 (AFP) - A judge found an Indian couple guilty on Monday of slitting the throats of their teenage daughter and a servant after a murder trial that obsessed the country for five years, a lawyer said.
"They have been found guilty of murder. They have been found guilty of the destruction of evidence," Mr Manoj Kumar Rai, who was inside the court to hear the verdict, told reporters.
Dr Rajesh Talwar and his wife Nupur are charged with murdering their only child, 14-year-old Aarushi, and their 45-year-old Nepalese domestic worker Hemraj by slitting their throats "with clinical precision" at their home in an affluent New Delhi suburb in 2008.
The couple burst into tears when judge Shyam Lal read out the verdict in a packed court room in Ghaziabad, a city just outside the capital.
“We are deeply disappointed, hurt and anguished for being convicted for a crime that we have not committed. We refuse to feel defeated and will continue to fight for justice,” the Talwars said in a written statement given to reporters outside.
The couple face life in prison and possibly the death penalty when the judge hands down his sentence on Tuesday.
Investigators allege Aarushi was killed in a fit of rage when her parents found her with the servant in an "objectionable" situation, while the couple insist they are victims of an incompetent investigation and vigilante justice in a case that has gripped the public imagination.
The prosecution concedes there is no forensic or material evidence against the couple, basing its case on the "last-seen theory" - which holds that the victims were last seen with the accused.
Her parents say they found Aarushi dead on her bed on the night of May 15. Security was tight around the small, rundown court on Monday where dozens of media have gathered for the verdict.
Security has been stepped up as a precaution after Rajesh Talwar was attacked in 2011 just outside the court during the trial by a man with a meat cleaver, leaving his cheek and hand deeply scarred.
Police initially blamed the Talwars' missing Nepalese servant for the murder, only to discover his body on the roof a day later. His throat was also cut and he had a head wound.
Officers then arrested Rajesh Talwar's Nepalese dental assistant along with two other local servants who hailed from Nepal, Hemraj's friends.Police accused them of the murders after lie-detector tests suggested they sought to attack Aarushi only to meet resistance from Hemraj. But they were released because of a lack of hard evidence.
The botched probe - investigators failed to seal the crime scene, allowing neighbours and relatives to swarm the home, or find the second body for more than 24 hours - prompted police to shut the case in 2010, citing no substantial evidence.
The Talwars then insisted they wanted the killers found and petitioned the court to reopen the case but ended up charged with the murder themselves. Graphic newspaper accounts appeared about the couple's lives, painting them as immoral members of a wife-swapping club.
The crime has spawned a nation of armchair detectives debating every twist in the case and public opinion about the identity of the killers is polarised.