independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Bus rapists in sentence appeal

Two of the four men sentenced to death for raping a young woman on a bus are brought to the High Court in New Delhi, India (AP)

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

The brutal attack in December sparked public debate and fury over chronic sexual violence faced by women in India.

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

The High Court in New Delhi said it would begin hearing prosecution arguments on Wednesday, while defence solicitors file their appeals against the convictions and sentences.

"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. A review is required for all death penalty cases in India, and the same court is hearing the men's appeals.

For the hearing, the men walked under police escort from a bus into the High Court complex.

In sentencing the four, trial court Judge Yogesh Khanna said the crime had "shocked the collective conscience" of India.

The four had been joyriding through New Delhi on a bus on the night of December 16 when they lured the 23-year-old woman and her male friend into boarding. They then beat the friend, took turns raping the woman and abusing her. She died from internal injuries two weeks later.

Another defendant hanged himself in prison, though his family insists he was killed. And an 18-year-old who was a juvenile at the time of the attack was sentenced in August to a maximum of three years in a reform home.

Press Association

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