NEW DELHI: The Indian court has finally pronounced on Friday death sentence to all four culprits accused in the gang-rape and murder of a young student in a public last December.
Indian court has finally made the much-awaited closure of the case which triggered nationwide protests and soul-searching about the treatment of women in India.
Judge Yogesh Khanna told the court that the case fell into the “rarest of rare category”, which justified capital punishment.
One of the men, Vinay Sharma, broke down in tears as the sentence was announced.
The parents of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student have been at the forefront of calls for the men, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma, to be sentenced to death over the attack.
A juvenile has already been sentenced to three years in a correctional facility, while a fifth adult defendant, bus driver Ram Singh, was found hanging in his prison cell in March while awaiting trial.
The victim and her companion had spent the evening watching a movie at a mall in south Delhi when they were picked up by one of the many private buses plying the streets.
But rather than take them home, the group subjected the pair to a horrifying 45-minute ordeal that ended with both of them thrown out of the bus, virtually unconscious and naked.
The young woman, who was repeatedly raped and then violated with an iron rod, died of her injuries two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.
0902 GMT: AFP’s Abhaya Srivastava reporting from the courtroom says the convicts look sad and appear to be teary-eyed.
They are dressed more smartly than at previous court appearances. Three of them are in shirts and one in a T-shirt.
0859 GMT: THE New Delhi gang rapists sentenced to death.
0856 GMT: AFP’s Delhi bureau reports that the mother of one of the convicted, Akshay Thakur, has been praying to Hindu deities all week at the family’s home in poverty-stricken Bihar state.
She has pleaded for the life of her son to be spared. “I am hopeful that God will help us during the worst crisis in our life.”
0853 GMT: It’s not certain that the court will pass the death penalty in this case, but India ended its unofficial eight-year moratorium on capital punishment last November when it executed the only surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Weeks later, a Kashmiri was hanged over his role in an attack on parliament a decade ago.
0845 GMT: In the past few days, the victim’s mother has begged the judge to hand down the death sentence. The identity of the parents cannot revealed in order to protect the identity of their late daughter.
“We beg the court that justice should be given to our daughter,” the mother told reporters. “It was not merely a mistake, they planned and killed her mercilessly.”
Both parents say only the death penalty can bring the family some closure.
0840 GMT: Among the messages posted on India’s DNTV website is one from a commentator called Singh: “Nothing Will Happen!!! Even If They Get life sentence or death, they will appeal in upper courts, district, high, supreme and it goes on and on and on……”
0838 GMT: AFP’s South Asia Chief Photographer, Roberto Schmidt says: “Hundreds of journalists, two dozen protestors and scores of policemen, some in riot gear and using horses have gathered in front of courthouse.”
0833 GMT: Debate continues to rage online over whether the four men should be given the death sentence.
One reader on the Hindustan Times website says: “The judgement should be according to the merits of the case and nothing else! This idea that Death Penalty should be given to all 4 of them, just because there is a Mob outside the court is absolutely WRONG!”
Others have called for the rapists to be shown no mercy and be killed
0828 GMT: Police sources have told AFP correspondent Annie Banerji outside the court that the convicted have arrived, transported in a bus with blacked out windows.
0825 GMT: AFP photographer Manan Vatsyayana, standing outside the court, says a large crowd of TV journalists and press have gathered to cover the trial. He says police are carrying riot gear in anticipation of trouble following the sentencing.