By PATRICK GOWER



The man who murdered New Zealand woman Diana Routley in India five years ago has been sentenced to death by hanging.



Dharam Deva Yadav was found guilty in India at the weekend of the murder of the 24-year-old New Zealand backpacker in August 1997.



The Deputy High Commissioner in India, Michael Swain, said the sentence had yet to be confirmed by the High Court in India, which should happen within a month.

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"We knew the death sentence was possible, but no one was prepared to speculate. We're certainly relieved to see the conviction after all these delays on the case."



Mr Swain also said that prosecutors had decided to appeal against the acquittals handed down for three other men charged with the murder.



The High Commission found out about the verdict late last night.



Yadav was prosecuted in the District and Sessions Court in the city of Varanasi, 70km from Brindavan, where Diana Routley was killed.



Speaking late last night after hearing of the verdict, Diana's father, Alan Routley, said the family were "glad to have the matter resolved".



Mr Routley had waited 5 1/2 years for his daughter's killer to be brought to justice.



It took Indian police nearly a year to arrest Yadav, beginning a marathon four years for the trial.



After making two trips to India to investigate - and pursue - the case at a personal cost of more than $200,000, Mr Routley said the verdict could only be described as "a relief".



"Relieved is the word.



"There is not much to be pleased about in the whole episode, unfortunately.



"We are relieved that the court has at last brought down a verdict."



The three other defendants acquitted of Ms Routley's murder were Kalicharan Yadav, Sindhu Harijan and Ram Karan Chauhan.



Ms Routley was travelling through India when she was befriended by Yadav.



After killing Ms Routley and stealing her traveller's cheques and some personal items, including her camera and backpack, Yadav stuffed her body into the cavity beneath the floor of a house in the village of Brindavan, 70km from the city of Varanasi.



He continued to deny any knowledge of Diana's death until he finally confessed to police in a temple.



Mr Routley, a 69-year-old civil engineer from Kohimarama, actually met Yadav on his travels to India.



He was involved in the identification of his daughter's body.



Murder carries the death penalty in India, and Mr Routley had said before the sentence was imposed that he would have no difficulty if Yadav was hanged.



"We just want to see a sentence that makes a strong statement about what happened and leaves people in no doubt that what happened was wrong."



Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff had earlier said that, although India was aware of New Zealand's general opposition to the death penalty, he had not approached New Delhi in this case.