An Indian court has found four men guilty of raping and killing a 23-year-old student in the capital, New Delhi, last December.
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.”
At least three of the four men will appeal the guilty verdicts, their lawyers said.
VK 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.
Forefront of calls
A fifth defendant was setenced to three years in jail last month as he was found to be only 17 years of age at the time of the crime.
Another suspect hanged himself while in prison.
The parents of the victim, who wept in court as the verdict was announced, have been at the forefront of calls for the defendants to be hanged for their part in the December 16 attack, saying that they could only have closure once the four were executed.
“We will not accept anything below the death penalty,” the victim’s father told the AFP news agency.
If all four are sentenced to death, I can't imagine anything being better than that... We will get closure.
“If all four are sentenced to death, I can’t imagine anything being better than that… We will get closure,” the father said.
His daughter, a physiotherapy student who cannot be named for legal reasons, died of her injuries on December 29 in a Singapore hospital.
The seven-month trial has been held in a special fast-track court in south Delhi, with more than 100 witnesses called to give evidence, including 85 for the prosecution.
Despite an initial gagging order on the trial, the case has drawn huge interest and about 20 TV trucks were outside the court on Tuesday morning while dozens of journalists queued to get inside.
During the trial, the prosecution produced DNA evidence, the victim’s dying testimony and statements from a male companion who was beaten up during the attack.
The victim and her companion had spent the evening watching a film at a mall in south Delhi when they were picked up by one of the many private buses plying the streets.
But rather than take them home, the group subjected the pair to a horrifying 45-minute ordeal that ended with both of them thrown out of the bus, virtually unconscious and naked.