Court upholds Delhi rapists' death sentences

NEW DELHI Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:28am EDT

1 of 2. Demonstrators shout slogans during a candlelight vigil to mark the first anniversary of Delhi gang rape, in New Delhi December 16, 2013. A 23-year-old woman was gang-raped on a moving bus in Delhi December 16, 2012, beaten and then pushed out onto the street along with her male companion. She died two weeks later amid an outpouring of anger across India. Four men were sentenced to death while a teenager was sentenced to juvenile custody.

Credit: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Four men convicted of raping and murdering a woman in New Delhi had their death sentences upheld on Thursday for a crime that caused a huge public backlash against an entrenched culture of violence against women in India.

The victim, a trainee physiotherapist who was raped for an hour and tortured with an iron rod on a moving bus, became a symbol of the dangers women face in a country where a rape is reported on average every 21 minutes.

"The day the murderers of my daughter are hanged, we will feel we have got justice," the victim's mother said after the Delhi High Court confirmed the sentence of hanging handed down by a trial judge last September.

"We hope, even in other such cases, justice will be done in the same fashion," the mother said. Indian law bars the press from identifying rape victims.

Defense lawyers said they would appeal to the Supreme Court, with one denouncing Thursday's decision as politically motivated. India holds a general election in April and May.

"This is not a fair trial," A.P. Singh, representing two of the convicts, told reporters after the ruling by a panel of two female judges. "If the judgment had come after the elections, it would have been in our favor ... Clearly, the judges are under political pressure."

Gym instructor Vinay Sharma, bus cleaner Akshay Kumar Singh, fruit-seller Pawan Gupta, and unemployed Mukesh Singh were sentenced to death for their part in the gang rape and killing of the 23-year-old woman in December 2012.

During the seven-month trial, a fifth defendant hanged himself in his cell. A sixth, who was under 18 at the time of the attack, was sentenced to three years' detention, the maximum allowed under juvenile law.

In his original sentencing of the four, the trial judge said India's courts "cannot turn a blind eye to the need to send a strong deterrent message to the perpetrators of such crimes".

If the Supreme Court upholds the sentence, a final decision will lie with the president, who has the power to grant clemency. Indian courts condemn around 130 people a year to death but the sentences are rarely carried out.

(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Malini Menon and Nick Macfie)

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Comments (3)
jbeech wrote:
Change has begun in India. These guys will serve as an example and a warning. What is it the Chinese say, about the longest journey beginning with the first step? With regard to respecting women, this seems like a pretty good step to me. Let’s hope the Supreme Court backs the High Court’s finding about the trial and its disposition.

Mar 13, 2014 7:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Sushmi wrote:
Unless effective law is imposed, more and more rape cases will keep raising ! Lawyers who try to keep extending the case should be removed/suspended for a short period for wasting the time of everyone.

Mar 13, 2014 8:47am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Larrym14169 wrote:
This is fabulous news. When they are put to death I will celebrate and do a little victory dance. That poor innocent girl’s Life was cut short in such a horrible way. She was on the road to making a difference in this tough world unlike the garbage that killed her. Why on earth should these 4 pieces of dung be allowed to live?

Mar 13, 2014 9:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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