Four men sentenced to death for Delhi gang rape
Case fell into ‘rarest of rare category’ and justified capital punishment, says judge
A demonstrator shouts slogans outside a court in New Delhi, demanding a death sentence for the four men convicted of raping and murdering a 23-year-old woman. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
An Indian judge yesterday sentenced four men to death for the fatal gang rape of a medical student in a moving bus last December amidst loud applause in the crowded courtroom.
“In these times when crimes against women are on the rise, the court cannot turn a blind eye to this gruesome act,” Judge Yogesh Khanna declared in New Delhi.
He said the case, which had triggered widespread protests across the country against the treatment of women, fell into the “rarest of rare category” which justified capital punishment.
“We are very happy,” said the victim’s father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, as cannot his 23-year-old daughter. “Justice has been delivered.”
His wife said with the death sentence, her daughter’s dying wish had at last been fulfilled.
Hundreds of people who were gathered outside the court, carrying placards demanding death for the four rapists, cheered when the sentence was announced.
One of the condemned, Vinay Sharma burst into tears as the verdict was handed down.
All four were nervous and teary-eyed as they entered the cramped courtroom to hear their punishment after being convicted on Tuesday for murder, gang rape and a multiplicity of related charges.
Lawyers for the four sentenced men said they would appeal the convictions in the Delhi High Court and even the Supreme Court, which means years of argument and delays in India’s notoriously slow legal system.
Thereafter, they can appeal to the Indian president for clemency, a process which is also time consuming.
On Tuesday Judge Khanna found bus cleaner Akshay Kumar Singh, gym instructor Vinay Sharma, fruit-seller Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh, who was unemployed, guilty of luring the victim and a male friend onto their bus on the night of December 16th last year when they were returning home after an evening at the cinema.
As the bus drove through the streets of the capital the six males beat her escort and repeatedly raped the victim, a student studying physiotherapy in Delhi.
They gratuitously inserted a metal rod inside her before hurling the couple naked and semi-conscious from the moving bus.
Country in shock
The girl died in a Singapore hospital two weeks later of internal injuries but was able to testify against her attackers from her hospital bed.
The brutality of the attack shocked even India, where newspapers daily publish gruesome accounts of horrific crimes against women.
Amidst countrywide protests the federal government was forced to introduce tougher laws to punish sexual offences.
Meanwhile, activists said the brutal attack last December had resulted in greater willingness by rape victims to come forward and officially lodge complaints.
So far 1,098 rape cases have been registered in Delhi this year, almost twice the 600 recorded during for the same period in 2012. This has earned Delhi the dubious sobriquet of being India’s ‘rape capital’.
“We hope the death sentence awarded to the four men acts as a deterrent to sexual crimes against women,” female rights activist Seema Mustafa said.