Page last updated at 09:23 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 10:23 UK

Life term of Indian model Jessica Lal's killer upheld

Jessica Lal
Jessica Lal was killed when she was 34

The Indian Supreme Court has upheld the life sentence of the son of an Indian politician who was convicted for killing the model Jessica Lal in 1999.

Manu Sharma's guilt has been "proven beyond doubt", the court ruled.

Sharma, son of former Congress party minister Venod Sharma, shot Miss Lal after she refused to serve him a drink at the Delhi restaurant she worked at.

The Delhi high court found him guilty in 2007 but Sharma appealed against the decision in the Supreme Court.

Legal experts say that Sharma has exhausted all his options for appeal.

The court also upheld the convictions and four-year sentences of two other people accused in connection with the killing, Amardeep Singh Gill and Vikas Yadav.

"The prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt the presence of Manu Sharma at the site of the offence," news agency Press Trust of India quoted Supreme Court Justices P Sathasivam and Swatanter Kumar as saying.

"The Delhi high court has given cogent and adequate reasons for reversal of acquittal given by the trial court," the judges said.

"I am very happy. The final door has been closed in this case," Sabrina Lal, Jessica's sister, told reporters outside the court.

Public outrage

Sharma is serving his life sentence at the Tihar jail in Delhi. The prosecution had demanded that he be sentenced to death.

At the time of the shooting, several eyewitnesses came forward to the police.

But by the time the case came to trial seven years later key eyewitnesses had retracted their statements, leading to Sharma's acquittal by a lower court.

The acquittals sparked public outrage, with protest rallies and a sustained media campaign launched to demand justice for Lal, who was 34 when she was killed.

The police appealed against the acquittals and opened an investigation into allegations that there had been a conspiracy to pervert justice.

The case was reopened and Sharma was sentenced to life by the Delhi high court in December 2006.

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