An Indian man, who was convicted for murdering his wife by making a cobra bite her while she was sleeping, has been handed a rare double life sentence by the court.
Sooraj Kumar, 28, was arrested at his home in southern Kerala state last year after his wife died from a snakebite.
A court in Kollam district Monday held Kumar guilty of murder and poisoning his wife, 25, and of making an earlier attempt to kill her using a Russell’s viper, legal news portal Live Law reported.
Judge M Manoj sentenced the convict on Wednesday to two consecutive life sentences, but did not accept the prosecution’s demand for capital punishment considering his age and opportunity to reform, domestic media reported.
The woman suffered the fatal bite in May 2020 while she was undergoing treatment for a snake bite just weeks earlier, raising suspicions in her family. Her family had alleged that her husband was harassing them for a dowry.
Investigations showed that Kumar was behind both attempts – he hatched a plan involving renting snakes from a handler and carrying out internet research on their bites.
India’s Supreme Court recently warned about a trend of snake-bite murders as it denied bail to a woman and her lover accused of using a cobra to kill her mother-in-law in the northern state of Rajasthan in 2019.
The biggest challenge in the Kerala case was to prove that the snakebite was homicidal, prosecutor G Mohanraj said, adding that the court was presented with a test that showed the difference between natural and induced bite marks.
Two defendants were acquitted by courts in similar cases in recent years after prosecutions failed to prove that poisonous snakes were used as a “murder weapon,” the Hindu newspaper reported.