Yogesh Khanna, judge of the special court, issued the ruling saying: "Death to all," the Hindustan Times reported.
The judge, who on Tuesday had convicted Mukesh Singh, 26, Vinay Sharma, 20, Akshay Thakur, 28, and Pawan Gupta, 19, on all charges against them, Friday pronounced the maximum sentence, instead of the minimum sentence of life in prison. In December, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student died a painful death from numerous internal and traumatic injuries she had suffered during the attack. Several of her organs had to removed.
CNN-IBN reported there were celebrations among the large crowd outside the court after the ruling.
Ever since the trial, there had been a huge public outcry in support of the death sentence under India's toughened laws against sexual crimes. The victim's agonizing death two weeks after her attack had enraged the entire nation, leading to days of widespread protests that highlighted the lack of safety and respect for women in the country.
The four convicted men were sentenced to die by hanging by the judge who said they had committed the "rarest of rare crimes," that called for the maximum penalty, NDTV television reported. The report said Vinay Sharma, a gym instructor, broke down after the sentence was read.
The girl's parents had earlier told NDTV the four should be given the death sentence. "They did not spare [his daughter], why should they be shown any mercy?" the father had asked.
After the sentencing, the girl's mother who was in the courtroom with her family, said: "I can finally breathe, I am relieved," NDTV reported. Her husband and their two sons were by their side.
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, calling the crime one of extreme brutality, said the victim and her male friend were lured into taking a ride in the private bus which was carrying the six accused. The male friend was beaten during the attack and both he and the woman were later thrown under a highway bridge without clothes. The woman had also been violated with iron rods.
The woman was flown to Singapore after initial treatment in New Delhi, but she died there. While in a New Delhi hospital, the woman had given what is called a dying declaration to police that led to capture of the attackers.
While convicting the four, the court had noted that the injuries on the victim established the attackers' intention was not only to rape but also to kill the girl and thus their actions were premeditated.
CNN reported lawyers for the four had pleaded with the judge for leniency for their clients while asking for life in prison sentence. The report said the question remained whether the four would be put to death as such death sentences have rarely been carried out in the past decade.
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