NEW DELHI, Sept 10 (Reuters, PTI): Four men were found guilty on Tuesday of the rape of a woman on a bus and her murder, closing a chapter on a crime that triggered protests about the treatment of women in India.
VK Anand, defence lawyer for one of the accused, said arguments on sentencing the four -- fruit seller Pawan Gupta, bus cleaner Akshay Kumar Singh, gym instructor Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh, an unemployed man -- would start on Wednesday.
All four could be hanged for the murder conviction, said Anand. The court has held them guilty of 13 offences including gang-rape, unnatural sex, murder, dacoity, conspiracy, kidnapping and destruction of evidence
They had all pleaded not guilty.
“All four accused committed on all sections,” said Anand. The court has convicted the four by relying on the victim's dying declaration and forensic evidence
Indian law prohibits naming the woman victim, a trainee physiotherapist from a lower-middle class family who had worked in a call centre.
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.
Outside the court, the case cemented India's reputation as unsafe for women, even after parliament passed new laws against sexual crimes
The case resonated with thousands of urban Indians who took to the streets in fury after the attack. Her path through education onto the first rungs of middle-class life seemed to epitomize the aspirations of millions of young women in India.
Akshay, Vinay, Pawan and Mukesh were found guilty of luring the woman and a male friend onto the bus on the night of December 16 as the pair returned home from watching a movie at a shopping mall in south Delhi.
As the bus drove through the streets of the capital, the men repeatedly raped and tortured the 23-year-old with a metal bar before dumping her and her friend, naked and semi-conscious, on the road.
She died in a Singapore hospital two weeks later of internal injuries.