India Delhi gang rape four to be sentenced

Protesters shout slogans demanding the death penalty for the four men convicted in the fatal gang rape of a young woman on a moving New Delhi bus last year, outside a court in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013
Image caption Demonstrators have called for the four convicted men to be hanged

Four men found guilty of raping and murdering a student in the Indian capital Delhi are due to be sentenced.

Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta were found guilty on all counts on Tuesday.

Prosecutors say they deserve the death penalty because of the brutality of the crime. Defence lawyers plan to appeal.

The woman, 23, was attacked on a bus in December and died two weeks later. The case led to days of violent protest across India and new laws against rape.

Public prosecutor Dayan Krishnan told Judge Yogesh Khanna at a hearing on Wednesday that the "sentence which is appropriate is nothing short of death".

Arguing against the death penalty, defence lawyers suggested that media coverage had a bearing on the trial.

Lawyers for three of the men, who had denied all the charges, have said they will appeal against the convictions.

Convicting the men on Tuesday, Judge Khanna said they were "guilty of gang rape, unnatural offences, destruction of evidence... and for committing the murder of the helpless victim".

Lawyers for the men have said throughout the trial that their clients were tortured and 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.

On 31 August a teenager who was found guilty of taking part in the rape 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.