KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A court in southern Nepal has sentenced a man to 35 years in prison for the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl, officials said Wednesday, in a case that sparked outrage in the Himalayan nation.
The girl had gone missing Feb. 20 near her home in the town of Kalaiya and was found unconscious in a garbage dump the next day. She died in a hospital last week, prompting street protests in the capital, Kathmandu, and her hometown.
Late Tuesday, the Bara District court sentenced Kanhaiya Gupta to 15 years in prison for the rape and 20 years for the murder after a short trial, the court said in a statement. The sentences are the maximum allowed for those offenses in Nepal.
Since the girl was found, authorities had been facing pressure to speed up the case and punish Gupta, 28, with some protesters calling for the death penalty. Nepal does not have capital punishment.
There are conflicting data on sexual crimes in Nepal, but rights groups say the number of rape cases in the country has increased in recent years. Menuka Thapa of Raksha Nepal, an organization that supports sexually exploited girls in Nepal, said people are also more educated now and more cases are being reported.