Delhi gang-rape verdict: 4 convicted for rape & murder in case that shook India

Delhi gang-rape verdict: 4 convicted for rape & murder in case that shook India

The Delhi gang-rape case ignited massive protests in December last year and forced the introduction of tougher laws to punish sexual offences

New Delhi:  "I want to live," the young woman told her mother in a Delhi hospital. Outside, on the streets, thousands marched, demanding justice for her and a safer country for women than the one where a student could be raped on a moving bus despite being accompanied by a male friend, despite the bus rolling through a congregation of police check points, despite the illegal tinted windows and "school bus" lettering that should have telegraphed something bizarrely out of the normal. (Delhi gang-rape case verdict: I want to live, she told her mother)

She died on December 29.

On Tuesday, four of the six men arrested for the facinorous attack were found guilty of rape and murder by a fast-track court, one of the changes her case has driven in India. They will be sentenced today; they could face the death penalty. (Delhi gang-rape: They committed the murder of a helpless victim, says judge) | (Gang-rape case: at least 3 of 4 convicts to appeal)

A fifth suspect hanged himself in jail in March; the sixth was 17 at the time of the attack and was sentenced last month to three years in a reform centre. (Juvenile found guilty of rape and murder, gets less than three years in reform home)

Her parents, who had sold their small piece of land in Uttar Pradesh to ensure their only daughter could fulfill her dream of becoming a physiotherapist, sat just a few feet from the convicted men in the congested court-room. They had tears in their eyes when the verdict was read out. Repeatedly, they have asked that the men who took their daughter's life be hanged. (Punish according to crime, not age, says braveheart's mother)

She was looking for a way home on a Sunday night in December, accompanied by her male friend. They had just watched The Life of Pi at a fancy South Delhi mall. It was 9 pm, a reasonable hour even by Delhi's low-achiever safety standards. The men on the private bus that pulled over sold them tickets for Rs. 10 each.

The brutality that followed on board would assail India and then the world within the next few hours.

Her friend was thrown to the back of the bus after being battered with an iron rod, which was later used to violate her. "18 internal injuries," the court order said today, highlighting "the act of pulling out the internal organ of the victim" as proof that the plan was to kill her.

45 minutes later, the couple was then thrown from the bus. Her 28-year-old friend has testified that the men tried to run her over, but he pushed her out of the way. "I never imagined that one human being could treat another so badly," he said in an interview. (After raping 'Amanat', men on bus allegedly tried to run her over)

There have been conflicting accounts from him and the police about how long the couple lay bleeding on the road, ignored by passers-by till a police van finally arrived and they were moved to hospital. Doctors who treated her said they had not seen such egregious injuries. "Her intestines were hanging out," said one.

For 10 days, she fought for her life in hospital in Delhi, while students and activists stomped determinedly through water cannons and batons, marching upto the President's door, demanding swift trials for women who are raped, and an overhaul of archaic laws to punish sexual offences.

She testified - twice - from her hospital bed, detailing for the police the actions of the men who she said must be punished. As her condition deteriorated, the government air-lifted her to a Singapore hospital, her parents by her side. She died three days later.

The government introduced new laws which make stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment a crime, and provide for the death penalty for repeat offenders or for rape attacks that lead to the victim's death. Special courts were also sanctioned to ensure that rape trials progress quickly.

But recent savage attacks, including last month's gang-rape of a photo-journalist in the heart of Mumbai, have underscored how vulnerable women remain, even in India's largest cities.

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