An Indian court sentenced a man to death Thursday for murdering a woman by throwing acid on her face after she rejected his marriage proposal, a decision applauded by the victim’s family.
Ankur Panwar was found guilty on Tuesday of hurling sulphuric acid on 24-year-old Preeti Rathi in a fit of jealousy outside a railway station in the financial capital Mumbai in May 2013.
Rathi, who was a neighbour of Panwar’s in New Delhi and had just arrived in Mumbai to start a new job as a nurse, died in hospital of multiple organ failure the following month.
“The court has awarded the death penalty to Ankur Panwar. I convinced the court that the acid attack belonged to the rarest of rare cases,” public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told AFP.
The Supreme Court says capital punishment should only be carried out in “the rarest of rare” cases in India, among a dwindling group of nations that still have the death penalty on their statute books.
Panwar’s lawyer said they would appeal the verdict — delivered at a special court dealing with crimes against women — to the Bombay High Court, Mumbai’s highest.
“We are moving the case to the high court. There is no second thought about it,” Apeksha Vora told AFP.
Police alleged Panwar, reportedly 26, and a hotel management graduate, had committed the crime out of jealousy after she rejected his marriage proposal and had wanted to disfigure her face to destroy her career.
Nikam successfully argued that Panwar’s attack had been pre-meditated. Vora had pleaded leniency for her client, saying that he was his family’s sole breadwinner.
“We had sought the death penalty since the beginning so the verdict is good. Now, we want it to be carried out without any delay,” Hitesh Rathi, Preeti’s brother, told AFP.
Hundreds of acid attacks occur in India and other nations every year, but experts say these figures are likely to represent only the tip of the iceberg, with scores of survivors facing lifelong scars and social stigma.