International - POSTED: 2008/05/30 13:27
A New Delhi court sentenced a wealthy Indian politician's son to life in prison Friday for the murder of his sister's boyfriend in a case seen as a test of the justice system's ability to take on the powerful.
Earlier in the week the court convicted Vikas Yadav in the abduction and murder of Nitish Katara in 2002. His cousin, Vishal Yadav, was also convicted.
The prosecution said the defendants killed Katara because they did not approve of his relationship with Vikas Yadav's sister, Bharti. The court said Friday the case did not merit the death sentence under Indian law.
A lawyer representing the Katara family, Kamini Jaiswal, told the CNN-IBN news channel she was satisfied with the sentence, while Yadav's lawyer, K.N. Balgopal told reporters they would appeal the conviction.
Vikas Yadav's father, Dharam Pal Yadav, is a wealthy and powerful lawmaker from India's Uttar Pradesh state, notorious for strongmen who dominate state politics using money, power and harassment to further their interests.
The case was seen as a bellwether of the courts' ability and willingness to take on powerful figures who often use bribery and influence to escape punishment.
Katara, then 24, was last seen the night before he was killed, attending a wedding with Bharti. His badly charred body was found later.
In most parts of largely conservative India, romantic relationships without parental approval are frowned upon and even considered an affront to family honor.