Delhi gang rapists sentenced to death
By Abhaya Srivastava, AFPNEW DELHI--An Indian judge on Friday sentenced to death four men convicted of the fatal gang rape of a student on a New Delhi bus last December, fulfilling the last wish of the 23-year-old victim.
September 14, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
Crowds of onlookers outside the packed courtroom burst into applause after Judge Yogesh Khanna announced his sentence during a short hearing that began at 02:30 pm (0900 GMT).
The defendants — lowly paid migrants to New Delhi, mostly in their 20s — had tears in their eyes and one of them, gym assistant Vinay Sharma, cried loudly as he was led away by police.
“Judge sahib (master), show some mercy!” he shouted.
Ending a seven-month trial in a fast-track court, Khanna said that the case, which sparked widespread anger against the treatment of women in India, fell into the “rarest of rare category” which justified capital punishment.
“In these times when crimes against women are on the rise, courts cannot turn a blind eye to this gruesome act,” he announced, adding in his written statement that the “ghastly” crime had “shocked the collective conscience.”
Signing his judgment, he broke the nib of his pen — a custom of judges to convey their hope that such extreme punishments will not be necessary in the future.
The mother of the victim told reporters she was delighted the men had been ordered to hang after their convictions on Tuesday for murder, gang rape, theft, conspiracy and “unnatural acts.”
“We are happy that in the end we got justice. My daughter wanted them to be given the death sentence,” she told reporters, wearing a green saree and flanked by her husband and sons.
There has been a huge clamour for the four — Sharma, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta, and Mukesh Singh — to be executed for their attack on the physiotherapy student and her male companion on December 16.
The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, died of grievous internal injuries on December 29 after being lured onto the private bus by the gang following a cinema trip with her companion.
After beating up the friend, the gang brutally assaulted her behind tinted windows for 45 minutes before flinging the bloodied and barely conscious couple onto a road leading to New Delhi's international airport.
Her injuries were so severe that she died nearly a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital. She had only briefly regained consciousness, telling family and friends of her desire to see her attackers burn to death.
“It was an inhuman act which has shamed all humanity. The message is that if you commit such a crime, you will get such punishment,” Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told a news conference afterwards.
Special prosecutor Dayan Krishnan said he had never before heard of such brutality, which saw the victim penetrated with an iron bar, and wished that the sentence “will instill some confidence in society.”