India court upholds death sentences for student's gang rape and murder on bus

India court upholds death sentences for student's gang rape and murder on bus
The case triggered massive protests across India.

India's top court has upheld the death sentences of four men convicted of the fatal gang rape and torture of a medical student on a moving bus nearly five years ago.

The court held that the diabolical nature of the crime in the Indian capital, which triggered massive protests across the country, made it a fit case for the death penalty.

The 23-year-old victim's father said he was happy with the court judgment and demanded that the convicts be hanged quickly.

"The court heard our voice and gave justice," Badri Singh said.

Prosecutors said Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh took their victim to the back of a private bus in New Delhi, raping her and then damaging her internal organs with an iron rod.

She died two weeks later of injuries in a hospital in Singapore, where she was taken for treatment.

The outrage over the New Delhi attack prompted quick action on legislation doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalising voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women.

Indian politicians also voted to lower to 16 from 18 the age at which a person can be tried as an adult for heinous crimes.

Defense lawyer AP Singh, representing three of the men, said the court should have given them a chance to reform and avoided the death penalty.

He said he would seek a review of Friday's judgment from the Supreme Court.

Ram Singh, the bus driver and fifth suspect in the crime, was found hanging in his cell in Tihar prison in March 2013, months before the suspects were convicted.

The sixth suspect was just months short of 18 years old when the crime took place.

He walked out of a correction home in December 2015 after serving three years - the maximum punishment for minors - sparking public outrage and an overhaul of the juvenile law.

Indian courts are notorious for delays as more than 30 million cases are pending. After massive protests, the Indian government put the gang rape case on a fast-track trial.

Swati Maliwal, chief of the New Delhi Commission for Women, said people were not scared of committing crimes because of long delays in bringing them to justice.

"The fact is that the road to justice is very, very long in this country," she said.

"Even in this case, it has taken five years. But at least in five years, we are coming to a conclusion. There are women in the country who have been fighting court battles for 10 to 15 years."

At least six rapes take place in the Indian capital every day, she said.

"Nothing much has changed because there is no fear among people that if they do something wrong, they will be punished," she said.

- AP

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