An Indian court convicted a businessman and his domestic employee on Thursday of murdering a young girl — just one of 19 victims, most of them children, in a case that has shocked the entire country.
There was nationwide revulsion after police in December 2006 recovered skulls, bones and body parts from sewage drains near a house dubbed the “House of Horrors” in Noida, a wealthy satellite city of the Indian capital New Delhi. The defendants are the owner of the house, Moninder Singh Pandher, and his servant, Surinder Koli. Koli confessed to cannibalism and necrophilia.
The pair, who were to be sentenced later yesterday, face 18 other charges of abduction, rape and murder.
“Today, we have a landmark judgment. This a victory for the court and the victims,” a prosecutor told the Times Now news channel.
In 2007 police said Koli confessed to having abducted children from a slum area, then killing them in his employer’s home and disposing of the remains in drains.
Some of the victims were as young as three and police believe most of the murder victims were raped or sexually assaulted.
Police initially said that Pandher was “not aware of the killings,” but a court ordered him to be charged with rape and murder, bumping up previous charges of concealing evidence and using prostitutes. The killings sparked riots when they came to light in Noida, where upmarket residences have sprung up next to poor villages such as Nithari, where most of the victims came from.
Nithari residents say 40 people, mostly children, have gone missing since 2004 and have accused police of ignoring their complaints because they were poor.
Six police officials were sacked for negligence in the case in 2007, prompting the federal Central Bureau of Investigation to take over the investigation.