Four found guilty in Indian gang-rape case

A police vehicle carrying four men accused of the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a bus on December 16, enters a court in New Delhi, September 10, 2013.
An Indian court found four men guilty of the fatal gang rape of a student on a moving bus in New Delhi in a case that caused national outrage and drew attention to a surge in violence against women in the country. 
Sentences for the men, who face the possibility of death by hanging, are expected to be handed down on Wednesday.
Judge Yogesh Khanna announced on Tuesday: "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."
The four men, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma, have all pleaded not guilty to the charges which include murder, rape and theft. 
At least three of the four men will appeal the guilty verdicts, their lawyers said.
V K Anand, the defence lawyer for one of the men Mukesh Singh, told reporters outside the courtroom: "My client was simply driving the bus. He confessed fairly that he was driving the bus but he did not know what went on inside."
A P Singh, the defence lawyer for two ohers, called the convictions "political" and said he would appeal on behalf of both of them.
"We will now go to the High Court with our appeal," he told reporters. "This is a political conviction." The lawyer for the fourth convict, Pawan Gupta, could not be immediately reached for comment.
At the end of last month 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.
A fifth adult defendant, 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.
The seven-month trial in Delhi has heard more than 100 witnesses, including 85 for the prosecution.
The sentence against the juvenile was deferred four times before being handed down.
The 23-year-old woman was brutally assaulted on a bus and died two weeks later.
The victim, who also cannot be named for legal reasons, was with a male friend when she was attacked on a bus and thrown from the vehicle.
Police said the assailants beat both of them and then raped the woman. She died in a Singapore hospital on 29 December from massive internal injuries.
During the trial, the prosecution laid out evidence against the four accused, including DNA, statements from a male companion who was beaten up during the attack, as well as the victim\’s dying testimony.
The victim and her companion had spent the evening watching a movie at a shopping centre in south Delhi when they were picked up by a bus.
But rather than take them home, the group are alleged to have then subjected the pair to a horrifying 45-minute ordeal which ended with both of them thrown out of the bus, unconscious and naked.
The attack sparked weeks of sometimes violent street protests across India amid seething public anger about sex crimes against women.
It also led to tougher laws for sex offenders, including the death penalty for rapists whose victims die or are left in a vegetative state.
Source: Agencies
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