Indian gets life term for killing son's black wife

An Indian-origin businessman in the US has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for hiring hitmen to murder his son's black wife as he was enraged at the inter-racial marriage.

Prosecution had sought death peanlty for Chiman Rai, 69, for paying two men USD 10,000 to kill Sparkle Michelle Rai, an African American, in April 2000 weeks after her marriage to his son Rajeev Rai alias Ricky, with whom she had a daughter.

The 22-year-old was found strangled and stabbed more than a dozen times at the couple's apartment.

Jurors deliberated for less than two hours before delivering the verdict in an Atlanta area courtroom in Georgia this week.

The case had gone cold but grabbed headlines as an "honour killing" after police arrested Chiman Rai and four others following a tip off two years ago.

The jury had found Rai guilty on seven charges, including felony murder and burglary, convinced that he believed that the marriage would embarrass his family.

Rai immigrated with his family from India in 1970 and taught Maths at Alcorn State University in Mississippi for a decade before opening a supermarket and a hotel in Kentucky Mississippi where Sparkle was an employee.

Prosecutors claimed that it was a hate crime. "This particular murder, outrageous, wantonly vile," prosecutor Sheila Ross was quoted as saying by the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The brutal murder of this young mother not only justifies but demands the death penalty," she told the jury.

Defence lawyer Don Samuel said while there was evidence that Rai believed his son's marriage would cast a stigma on his family in Indian society, he wasn't a racist and had strong support in the African- American community.

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