NEW DELHI (AP) — An Indian court convicted four men Tuesday in the fatal gang rape of a young woman on a moving New Delhi bus, an attack that set off waves of protests and gave voice to years of anger over the treatment of women.
The men, convicted on all the counts against them, including rape and murder, now face the possibility of hanging. The sentences are expected to be handed down Wednesday.
Reading out his verdict, Judge Yogesh Khanna said the men had committed “murder of a helpless person.”
The parents of the rape victim, who cannot be identified under Indian law, had tears in their eyes as the verdicts were read. The mother, wearing a pink sari, sat just a few feet from the convicted men in a tiny courtroom jammed with lawyers, police and reporters.
Outside the courthouse, where dozens of protesters had gathered, a chant began quickly after the verdict: “Hang Them! Hang Them! Hang Them!”
Protesters called the case a wake-up call for India.
“Every girl at any age experiences this — harassment or rape. We don’t feel safe,” said law school graduate Rapia Pathania. “That’s why we’re here. We want this case to be an example for every other case that has been filed and will be filed.”
A.P. Singh, a lawyer for the men, said all were innocent.
“These accused have been framed simply to please the public,” he told reporters. “This is not a fair trial.”
The four men, along with another suspect who hanged himself in prison and a juvenile convicted in August, were riding through the city on an off-duty bus in December when they tricked the 23-year-old woman and a male friend into boarding.
They beat the friend into submission, held down the woman and repeatedly raped her. They also penetrated the woman repeatedly with an iron rod, causing severe internal injuries that led to her death two weeks later.
Facing public protests and political pressure, the government reformed some of its antiquated laws on sexual violence, creating fast-track courts to avoid the painfully long rape trials that can easily last over a decade. The trial of the four men, which took about seven months, was astonishingly fast by Indian standards.