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Delhi gang-rape verdict today: four accused brought to court; victim's kin demand death

A Delhi court is likely to pronounce today its verdict in the December 16 gang-rape case, in which four adult accused were tried for brutal rape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus. How the case unfolded | Accused and their role in the crime | Judgment day: evidence vs blatant denial

india Updated: Sep 10, 2013 12:53 IST

A Delhi court is likely to pronounce on Tuesday its verdict in the December 16 gang-rape case, in which four adult accused were tried for brutal rape and murder of a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus.

Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna had, on September 3, reserved his order for September 10 after the prosecution and defence closed their arguments.

The police had charged six persons in the incident. The case against one of the main accused, Ram Singh, was dropped following his death in Tihar Jail during the trial earlier this year.

The sixth juvenile accused was held guilty by the Juvenile Justice Board on August 31, and was sent to a remand home for three years.

The charges in the instant case were framed on February 2 during which the court also invoked section 366 IPC against them for abducting the girl with the intention of committing "illicit intercourse".

It had in its order described the juvenile as an associate of the adult accused, who committed gang rape in furtherance of the conspiracy and "common intention".

The four have been tried for offences under section 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 376 (2)(g) (gangrape), 377 (unnatural offences), 395 (dacoity), 396 (murder in dacoity), 201 (destruction of evidence), 120-B (conspiracy), 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 365 ( kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person), 394 (voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery), and 412 (dishonestly receiving property stolen in the commission of a dacoity) of the IPC.

Outside the court, the case had sparked a national debate about the treatment of women in the world's second most populous country.

"We live every day, we die every day for this verdict. Our child, before she died, said such people should be burnt alive," the father of the victim told Reuters in an interview.

Indian law prohibits naming the woman victim, but the media have dubbed her braveheart.

Her parents have built a wooden shrine in their bedroom to commemorate her. It contains two framed and garlanded photographs of her along with school trophies, books and dolls she played with as a child. The family received the three-bedroom apartment from the government after her death.

"To fulfil her last wish, with the help of all the evidence the court has, they must not be spared at any cost. They should be hanged and nothing else," her father had said.

Prosecutors had alleged that bus cleaner Akshay Kumar Singh, gym instructor Vinay Sharma, fruit-seller Pawan Gupta, and unemployed Mukesh Singh had lured the woman and a male friend onto the bus on the night of December 16 as the pair returned home from watching a movie at a shopping mall in south Delhi.

As the bus drove through the streets of the capital, the men repeatedly raped and tortured the 23-year-old with a metal bar before dumping her and her friend, naked and semi-conscious, on the road, prosecutors said. Her friend later recovered, but the woman's internal injuries were so severe that she died in a Singapore hospital two weeks after the attack.

Two of the suspects, Gupta and Sharma, had said they were at a party in a park when the attack took place. Akshay Singh had said he was hundreds of kilometres away in his village in Bihar state.

Full Coverage: she lit a flame

Mukesh Singh also denied being present, but during the trial he changed his story and said he had been driving the bus. He said his three co-accused had been on the bus, but he insisted he had not seen anything as the interior lights had been switched off after the victim and her friend had boarded.

The brutality of the attack shocked even in India, where newspapers daily publish a grim litany of sex crimes against women.

Under pressure to show results, the government set up a special "fast-track" court to try the accused quickly.

India rarely executes death row prisoners but there was huge public pressure on the government to hang the men if they are found guilty.

In March, the fifth accused, Ram Singh, hanged himself from the grille in the ceiling of his prison cell. Officials said he had made a noose from the mat he slept on.

A teenager tried separately in the same case was sentenced to three years in juvenile detention last month, the maximum penalty that could be imposed because of his age.

What happened during trial

During the trial, the special court judge had heard 85 prosecution and 17 defence witnesses in a total of 117 hearings. Among those who testified were the investigators who traced the bus using CCTV footage from a hotel and found the victim's blood inside the vehicle, according to a police report. The victim's male friend identified all of the accused.

Read More: dateline of the case

Defence lawyers and prosecutors said they expect Khanna to be brief, reading out the charges against each of the accused and then delivering his verdicts. They do not anticipate that he will give reasons for his rulings.

India outraged after incident

Whatever the verdicts, the case has left an indelible mark on Indian society. Thousands of people took to the streets after the attack to protest against the government's poor record of keeping women safe and putting rapists behind bars.

A law passed in March provides for stricter punishments on gender crimes. It punishes repeat rape offenders with death, criminalises voyeurism and stalking and makes acid attacks, gang rape and trafficking specific offences.

Women's rights groups have welcomed the measures but say they do not go far enough, terming them "token gestures" from a government that is still plagued, like much of Indian society, by patriarchal attitudes.

Read More:

Ram Singh: the main accused behind the ghastly crime

She wanted tormentors to be burnt alive: Delhi rape victim's friend

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