Rajesh and Nupur Talwar guilty of Aarushi and Hemraj murders

Sanjoy Majumder reports one of India's most notorious murder trials

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An Indian couple have been convicted of murdering their daughter Aarushi Talwar and their Nepalese servant, Hemraj Banjade.

The 14-year-old only daughter of dentists Rajesh and Nupur Talwar was found dead at home in May 2008 with her throat slit and a fatal head injury.

Suspicion initially fell on Hemraj until his bludgeoned body was found on the Talwars' roof just one day later.

They denied murder, destroying evidence and misleading investigators.

At the scene

After five and a half years of dramatic twists and turns, allegations of bungling and false starts a verdict was finally delivered.

There was tight security at the Ghaziabad court. Journalists were not allowed inside the courtroom, and information trickled out through lawyers. Some camera operators were perched on the tops of trees and the courtroom boundary wall to get the best shot.

Passers-by asked journalists about the verdict. And there was pandemonium as soon as the lawyer announced they had been convicted: "The Talwars broke into tears," he said.

Family and friends of the Talwars at the court were in shock, saying they found themselves up against the might of the CBI. They will challenge the order in a higher court. This story is not over yet.

The murders generated huge interest in India with every twist and turn in the case receiving wall-to-wall coverage.

The couple burst into tears when judge Shyam Lal read out the verdict in a crowded court room in the city of Ghaziabad, just outside the capital, Delhi.

They issued a statement expressing their anguish at the verdict. Sentencing is to take place on Tuesday and the couple could face a life sentence or even the death penalty. Their lawyers say they will appeal.

"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.

The police investigation was the subject of intense scrutiny, with the Talwars and some legal experts saying that local detectives and then federal investigators from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) mishandled the case.

'Compromising situation?'
Aarushi Talwar Aarushi, 14, was murdered in her bedroom at the family home

Aarushi's body was found in her own bedroom, just next door to her parents' room at their home in the affluent Delhi suburb of Noida.

Prosecutors alleged that the Talwars killed their daughter in a rage when they found her in a compromising situation with Hemraj.

In the early days of the police investigation, Aarushi was described as a girl of "loose moral character" who chatted with boys and went for "sleepovers" at friends' homes.

Such statements prompted an outcry from women's and child rights groups.

CASE TIMELINE

  • 16 May 2008: Schoolgirl Aarushi Talwar's body found at home with throat slit and a fatal head wound
  • 17 May 2008: Body of domestic help Hemraj found on the roof of the house
  • 23 May 2008: Father Dr Rajesh Talwar arrested
  • 29 May 2008: Case handed over to federal detective agency CBI
  • 11 July 2008: Dr Rajesh Talwar bailed
  • 29 December 2010: CBI wants to close the case due to a "lack of evidence"
  • 25 January 2011: Dr Rajesh Talwar attacked by a man with meat cleaver
  • April 2011: CBI says "only parents could have killed Aarushi"
  • 8 June 2012: Trial begins

Some experts say the case highlighted a "clash of cultures" within India, pitting police and conservative sectors of society against what they saw as the "excesses of the upper middle class".

Nevertheless, the case enthralled India, receiving almost unprecedented levels of media scrutiny. In 2011 one man, with no connection to the case, attacked Rajesh Talwar with a meat cleaver as he went to court, leaving his face scarred.

But police in Noida - which lies in Uttar Pradesh state - who initially investigated the case were also severely criticised for their "shoddy" investigation.

Within hours of the crime, dozens of people, including television camera crews and reporters, had been in and out of the house compromising the scene of the crime.

Suspicion fell on several other suspects before investigators finally closed in on the parents and their trial began in June last year.

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