NEW DELHI, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- A special court in India Tuesday convicted all four men in the brutal gang rape and eventual death of a woman in New Delhi aboard a moving bus last December.
The victim, a physiotherapy student, died a painful death from numerous internal and traumatic injuries she suffered during the horrific attack. Her death enraged the entire nation, leading to days of widespread protests that forced the government to severely tighten laws relating to sexual offenses and brought to into focus the shabby way many women are treated in India.
The court found Mukesh Singh, 26, Vinay Sharma, 20, Akshay Thakur, 28, and Pawan Gupta, 19, guilty on all counts including gang rape, murder, attempt to murder, unnatural offenses, and destruction of evidence after noting the dying declaration of the 23-year-old victim, the testimony of dozens of prosecution witnesses, and DNA and forensic evidence had established their guilt, the Hindustan Times reported.
The four could either be sentenced to the maximum penalty of death or life in prison. Sentencing was set for Wednesday.
The Hindustan Times quoted sources who said the prosecution would demand the death sentence for all four as the crime was "rarest of rare," a provision in the law needed for awarding the death penalty.
In her dying declaration, the victim had been quoted as saying the accused had inserted iron rods into her body, torn out her internal organs, and beaten her.
Two other suspects in the case were a teenager and Ram Singh, 34, the bus driver and the brother of Mukesh Singh. Last month, the teenager was found guilty of taking part in the rape and sentenced to a maximum three years in a reform facility permissible under juvenile laws. Ram Singh was found dead in his jail cell in March. Prison officials said he had hanged himself.
On the night of the crime Dec. 16, the prosecution said the victim and her male friend were offered a ride in the private bus which was carrying the six accused. The male friend also was beaten during the attack and both he and the woman were later thrown under a highway bridge without clothes. The woman was flown to Singapore after initial treatment in New Delhi, but she died there.
Soon after Judge Yogesh Khanna made the ruling, Pawan Gupta, a fruit vendor, broke down while Vinay Sharma, a gym instrctor, stood shocked, the Press Trust of India reported. The other two showed no emotion.
One local television channel quoted lawyers for three of the four convicted Tuesday as saying they would appeal.