Indian court convicts man over brutal rape, murder of student

NEW DELHI (AFP) - An Indian court on Tuesday (Dec 12) found a man guilty of raping and murdering a law student in a frenzied knife attack in southern Kerala state that sparked nationwide outrage.

The murdered student was found dead in a pool of blood in her home in Perumbavoor town on April 28, 2016, with nearly 30 stab wounds and bite marks on her severely disfigured corpse.

Muhammed Ameerul Islam was convicted by a district court in Kerala over the brutal attack, which drew comparisons with the high-profile gang-rape and murder of a Delhi student in 2012.

"The court found him guilty of rape, murder and trespass," B.A. Aloor, Islam's lawyer told AFP.

He said Islam would be sentenced on Wednesday, with prosecutors seeking the death penalty.

The court was told Islam's crime was the "rarest of the rare" - an expression reserved in Indian courts for crimes that result in capital punishment.

The woman, a member of India's lowest Dalit caste who was studying to become a lawyer, lived with her mother who was not at home when the murder took place.

Police took nearly two months to identify a suspect, generating widespread criticism by women's rights activists who accused investigators of bungling the case.

The prosecution described the crime as unprovoked but some media reports say the attack was motivated by revenge over a disagreement.

The level of brutality in the attack sent shockwaves through India and was quickly compared to the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a moving bus in New Delhi in 2012.

That crime shone a spotlight on the rising levels of violence against women in India, sparked mass protests and led to an overhaul of rape laws that increased penalties for offenders and accelerated trials through courts.

India has a grim record of sexual crimes against women, with nearly 39,000 rape cases reported in 2016, according to government data.

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