Indian court sentences four men to death in fatal Delhi gang rape case

Four men have been convicted over roles in rape and murder of 23-year-old woman in capital Delhi last year. (AFP Photo/Prakash Singh)
An Indian court has sentenced four men to death for the rape and murder of a young student on a New Delhi bus last year, in a case that has sparked protests about the safety of women in India. 
A judge in New Delhi handed down the sentence Friday. 
Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta were found guilty on all counts earlier this week.
The 23-year-old victim was raped and assaulted with an iron bar in December. Her male companion was also beaten before both were thrown off the bus. 
The woman died of her injuries two weeks after the attack in a Singapore hospital, where she had been taken for treatment.
Judge Yogesh Khanna said on Friday the case fell in the "rarest of rare category", rejecting pleas for lighter sentence.
Khanna said the attack "shocked the collective conscience" of India, and that "courts cannot turn a blind eye" to such crimes.
"This case definitely falls in the rarest of rare categories and warrants the exemplary punishment of death," he added.
The four men faced either life imprisonment or death by hanging.
The men called out to reporters as police drove them into the courthouse complex before the sentencing hearing.
"Save us, brothers! Save us!" they could be heard shouting from the police van.
One of the convicted men, Vinay Sharma, broke down in tears and cried loudly as the sentence was announced.
Earlier, protesters outside the court had demanded that the four men must be hanged.
As the news broke, crowds inside the building and outside the courtroom roared with cheers and applauded the judgement.
The prosecution team congratulated each other, with lead lawyer Dayan Krishnan saying: "We did our job. We are happy with this sentence".
The father of the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the family was also satisfied as he left with his wife and sons.
"We are very happy. Justice has been delivered," he told reporters inside court flanked by his wife and sons.
A fifth defendant, who was 17 at the time of the attack, was sentenced to three years in a reform home – the maximum sentence he could have received. 
A sixth defendant, an adult, was found dead in his jail cell in March.
The woman\’s attack set off furious protests across India about the treatment of women in the country and led to an overhaul of India\’s sexual assault laws.
Earlier, protesters outside the court had demanded that the four men must be hanged.
Source: Agencies
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