A juvenile court ruled Monday that a suspect in last month’s gang rape and murder of a New Delhi woman was a juvenile at the time of the attack.
India’s Juvenile Justice Board announced the decision Monday after accepting the suspect’s school documents indicating that he was under 18 years of age at the time of the Dec. 16 attack, Voice of America reports.
The suspect could face a maximum of three years in a reform facility if he is convicted. A conviction as an adult could have led to his execution.
The five other men accused of premeditating the rape and murder of the 23-year-old student could could face death if convicted. A separate pretrial hearing was held Monday to determine what charges the men will face when the case goes to trial, but details were not revealed due to a gag order.
The assault set off a wave of protests across India, opening a debate on the country’s widespread violence against women. Many travel in groups, go out of their homes only during the day and carry sharp objects to stab men who grope them in public.
A government-appointed panel issued a scathing report last week highlighting India’s failure to enforce laws that protect women.