India rape accused guilty
FOUR men were found guilty yesterday of the fatal gang-rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi on Dec 16 last year.
The crime shook India to its core and forced Indians to confront the issue of rampant sexual violence in a society undergoing wrenching change.
Protesters called the attack a wake-up call for India.
Arguments on sentencing are due to begin today. All four could be hanged for the murder conviction.
Wearing a pink sari and with tears in her eyes, the mother of the 23-year-old victim sat just a few feet from the four men who stood against a wall in the court as Judge Yogesh Khanna read out the verdict.
"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," Judge Khanna said.
Bus cleaner Akshay Kumar Singh, gym instructor Vinay Sharma, fruit-seller Pawan Gupta and unemployed Mukesh Singh were found guilty of luring the woman and a male friend onto the bus on the night of Dec 16 as the pair were returning home from watching a movie at a mall across the street from the court where they were found guilty.
As the bus was driven through the streets of the capital, the men repeatedly raped and tortured the victim with a metal bar before dumping her and her friend, naked and semi-conscious, on the road.
She died of internal injuries in a Singapore hospital two weeks later.
The verdict capped a seven-month trial, often held behind closed doors, that was punctuated dramatically by a fifth defendant hanging himself in his jail cell.
In the narrow-laned slum where the men met to drink alcohol and eat chicken before leaving in the bus to find the victim on the night of the attack, neighbours and relatives were glued to television sets awaiting the ruling.
"Now that they are proven guilty, they must be hanged. There cannot be any other option," said student Rajesh Singh, a resident of the Ravidass Camp slum.