Four convicted for Delhi gang rape

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Media caption,
The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder: "As he [the judge] read out his verdict, the parents of the victim... broke down into tears"

Four men have been found guilty of the fatal gang rape of a student in the Indian capital Delhi last December.

The 23-year-old woman was brutally assaulted on a bus and died two weeks later.

Her death led to days of huge protests across India in a wave of unprecedented anger.

The case forced the introduction of tough new laws to punish sexual offences. The four men are expected to be sentenced on Wednesday.

Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta denied charges including rape and murder, and lawyers for three of the men said they would appeal against the convictions.

They face the death penalty over the attack on the physiotherapy student after being found guilty of rape, murder and destruction of evidence.

Dozens of reporters as well as protesters calling for harsh sentencing gathered outside the court to await the verdict.

"Hang Them! Hang Them! Hang Them!" the demonstrators chanted soon after the verdict was passed down.

"I convict all of the accused. They have been found guilty of gang rape, unnatural offences, destruction of evidence... and for committing the murder of the helpless victim," Judge Yogesh Khanna pronounced.

Arguments ahead of sentencing will begin on Wednesday morning, he said.

The rapists were on an out-of-service bus when they tricked the 23-year-old woman and a male friend into boarding it.

Police said the assailants beat both of them and then raped the woman. She died in a Singapore hospital on 29 December - 10 days after the attack - from massive internal injuries.

Media caption,
The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder looks back at the outrage the case caused, and how it changed India

Before she died she was able to give evidence against her attackers from her hospital bed.

Her parents who were in court welcomed Tuesday's convictions.

"We are happy with the conviction. Now we expect the judge to sentence all of them to death," the victim's father told Indian media after the verdict.

"We will get complete closure only if all the accused are wiped off from the face of the earth. This is what they did to our daughter most brutally."

The victim's male friend told AFP ahead of Tuesday's verdict that he "never imagined that one human being could treat another so badly".

"The rapists injured my friend in the most shocking ways while they beat me with a metal bar and dumped us near a highway.

"They wanted us to die. Now, I want them to die and she also wanted them to die... She wanted them to be set on fire."

But lawyers for the four convicted men say that their clients have been tortured and that some of their confessions - later retracted - were coerced.

Correspondents say that torture is a common occurrence in India's chaotic criminal justice system.

The case sparked a national debate on the treatment of women.

Tough new laws were introduced in March which allowed the death penalty - carried out very rarely in India - to be handed down in the most serious cases of rape.

Home Minister Sushul Kumar Shinde said the law should act as a deterrent for similar cases.

Image caption,
Demonstrators outside the court called for the four convicted men to be hanged

"Now if there is any such action [rapes] in future, the laws have been made very strict and those guilty of such crimes will surely be hanged," he said.

On 31 August a teenager who was found guilty of taking part in the rape in Delhi was sentenced to three years in a reform facility, the maximum term possible because the crime was committed when he was 17. He also denied all the charges.

Another suspect, Ram Singh, was found dead in his cell in March. Prison officials said they believed he hanged himself but his family allege he was murdered.