India

Aarushi Talwar: India parents walk free after murder acquittal

Rajesh Talwar (second from left) and his wife Nupur Talwar (second from right) arrive at a prison in India in 25 November 2013 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The murders generated huge interest in India

An Indian couple accused of murdering their daughter Aarushi Talwar and their Nepalese servant, Hemraj Banjade, have been released from jail.

Dentists Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were acquitted on appeal on 12 October after spending four years in prison in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Their 14-year-old daughter was found dead at their home in May 2008.

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

The dentist couple have offered to visit the prison regularly to treat patients, according to officials. While in prison, they helped revive the dental department and often treated both inmates and staff.

Last week, the high court in Allahabad said the couple had to be released immediately. However the lengthy process required to free prisoners meant that the couple could only leave jail today.

Reports quoted the judges as saying that the evidence against the couple was circumstantial and the federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which investigated the murders had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Talwars had killed their daughter.

It is not clear whether the CBI will appeal against the judgement.

The trial court had based its verdict on circumstantial evidence as key forensic evidence had been lost during two flawed investigations.

Aarushi was found with her throat slit and a fatal head injury in her own bedroom, next-door to her parents' room at their home in the affluent Delhi suburb of Noida.

Case timeline

Image copyright other
  • 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 Rajesh Talwar arrested
  • 29 May 2008: Case handed over to federal detective agency CBI
  • 11 July 2008: Rajesh Talwar bailed
  • 29 December 2010: CBI wants to close the case due to a "lack of evidence"
  • 25 January 2011: Rajesh Talwar attacked by a man with meat cleaver
  • April 2011: CBI says "only parents could have killed Aarushi"
  • 8 June 2012: Trial begins
  • 26 November 2013: Rajesh and Nupur Talwar found guilty of murdering Aarushi and Hemraj and sentenced to life
  • 12 October 2017: The high court in Allahabad frees the couple

Her parents told the police they were sleeping in the next room when the murder was committed.

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

They also argued that Aarushi's throat was slit in a manner indicating someone with medical skills, and that the two victims were hit by a golf club that was initially hidden by the Talwars.

The prosecutors said the crime scene had also been dressed to mislead investigators.

Image copyright other
Image caption The Talwar family in happier times

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.

The case gripped India, receiving almost unprecedented levels of media scrutiny.

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