Indian gang rapists challenge their death sentences


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The Independent Online

Lawyers for four men sentenced to death for raping and murdering a young woman on a bus in Delhi, have challenged the verdicts at a High Court hearing.

The brutal attack in December prompted public outrage over chronic sexual violence against women in India.

"I am challenging this verdict," said AP Singh, who has defended all four men at various times.

All death penalty cases in India must be confirmed by a higher court. As part of the proceedings for that, the High Court said it would begin hearing prosecution arguments on Wednesday supporting the guilty verdicts and death penalties issued earlier this month, while the defence lawyers file their appeals.

"We have to deal with this as expeditiously as possible because the sword of death is hanging over them," Judge Pratibha Rani said.

It could take weeks or months for the court to hear arguments, review evidence and consider the appeals before deciding whether to confirm the execution orders.

The men walked under police escort into the court complex. Three had their faces uncovered in public for the first time since the crime, while one wore a handkerchief tied over his nose and mouth. Another defendant hanged himself in prison, though his family claims he was killed.