Delhi gang-rape: Prosecutors demand death penalty

Four men face either life imprisonment or death penalty over the rape and murder of physiotherapy student last December

Delhi

Prosecutors
in India have demanded the death penalty for four men convicted of the
gang-rape and murder of an Indian student, saying it was the only possible sentence
for such a “diabolical crime”.

A day after the men were found guilty of carrying out the lethal attack on the 23-year-old woman last December, prosecution lawyers said society would lose faith with the justice system if the men were not sent to be hanged.

“The court should give the maximum sentence otherwise the message will go to society that deviance of this nature will be tolerated,” said the chief prosecutor, Dayan Krishnan. “The test is ‘was the collective conscience shocked?'. There can be no better example than this case.”

He added: “The sentence which is appropriate is nothing short of death.”

In the aftermath of the assault, which outraged the country, Indian television channels have led the way in calling for the men to be hanged and the home minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, told reporters that the “death penalty is assured in this case”.

But on Wednesday, lawyers for the four men - bus cleaner Akshay Kumar Singh, gym instructor Vinay Sharma, fruit-seller Pawan Gupta, and Mukesh Singh, who was unemployed – argued that the case did not merit the distinction of “rarest of rare”, the requirement laid down by the Supreme Court for assigning the death penalty.

The four men had all pleaded not guilty. According to the Associated Press, the men stood in the back of the tiny courtroom in T-shirts or short-sleeved polo shirts, unshackled and with policemen holding them from both sides.

They appeared impassive, though it was not clear how much they understood as the lawyers made their arguments. Most of the day’s arguments were in English, which only one of the men, Vinay Sharma, is able to speak. They had no translator. The family of the young woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were again in court to witness the proceedings.

Vivek Sharma, a lawyer representing Pawan Gupta, who is aged 19, asked for a sentence of life imprisonment, noting that Indian law calls for execution only in very exceptional cases. He said his client’s young age meant it was possible he could be rehabilitated.

“The court must bear in mind that life imprisonment is the rule and the death sentence is the exception,” he said. “A possibility of his reformation is there.”

VK Anand, who represent Mukesh Singh, said: “He was driving the bus. At best he can be held responsible for aiding the others. He can’t be given death.”

During the seven-month trial, held in a specially established fast-track court, prosecutors said the men had lured the woman and a male friend onto an off-duty bus on the night of 16 December as the pair returned home from watching a movie.

As the men drove the bus through the streets of Delhi, they repeatedly raped and assaulted the 23-year-old with a metal bar before stripping her and her friend naked and throwing them from the vehicle. She died two weeks later in a hospital in Singapore.

After hearing the various arguments, the judge announced that he will deliver the sentence on Friday. In his 237-page judgement, which has been seen by The Independent, the judge found the men guilty of at least 11 counts under the Indian penal code. These ranged from gang-rape and murder to conspiracy and dacoity.

He said the men had all “inflicted numerous injuries on the body of the [victim] including biting her on all parts of her body and inserting iron rods into her...This showed they had the intention to kill her.”

He said: “She was gang-raped by the six persons, one by one, and as her body became devoid of any resistance because of this, the iron rods and hands were inserted into her...All of this was done in a premeditated fashion.”

In the aftermath of the attack, police arrested six males over the crime. One man, Ram Singh, the brother of Mukesh Singh and the alleged ring-leader, was found hanging in his jail cell in March.

The sixth male, who was 17 at the time of the assault and was tried as a juvenile, was found guilty ten days ago and ordered to be detained for three years in a young offenders institution.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor