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Friday 15 December 2017

Delhi bus rapists wait to hear fate

Protesters outside the court demanding the death penalty for the rapists (AP)
Protesters outside the court demanding the death penalty for the rapists (AP)

The four men who raped and killed a young Indian woman on a moving bus will learn if they face execution on Friday.

A judge in New Delhi had been due to sentence them on Wednesday, but postponed the hearing.

The prosecutor called for all four to be hanged after they were convicted on Tuesday in the December gang rape of the 23-year-old woman; a brutal crime that unleashed a wave of public anger over the treatment of Indian women and a long-unspoken epidemic of sexual violence. The victim died two weeks after the attack.

The four face either life or death by hanging. Calls for the men to be executed have grown increasingly loud, with everyone from the victim's parents to top political leaders demanding the death sentence.

Prosecutor Dayan Krishnan said the attack shocked India's "collective conscience". "There can be nothing more diabolic than a helpless girl put through torture," he said.

The four men sat in in the back of the tiny court impassively, although it was not clear how much they understood of the proceedings. Most of the day's arguments were in English, a language that only one of them can speak. They had no translator.

The defence lawyers have proclaimed their innocence, while sometimes indicating some of the men may have been on the bus. They insist that any confessions were from by police torture. They called for the judge to avoid the death penalty.

"If they have committed a mistake, and the court accepted that they committed a mistake, then they should be given a chance to reform," A.P. Singh, who has worked with all the defendants at various times, said. "The accused are not habitual and professional criminals. They should be given one chance to reform themselves."

Vivek Sharma, a lawyer representing Pawan Gupta, a 19-year-old fruit vendor, asked for a sentence of life imprisonment, noting that Indian law calls for execution only in very exceptional cases.

The family of the victim watched from one row in front of the prisoners. Afterwards they again called for the men to be hanged."They finished our daughter," said the father, who cannot be named to guard his daughter's identity as a rape victim. "We want them finished."

Press Association

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