Death for gang-rapists, nation applauds

New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) A judge Friday took just a few minutes to sentence four men to death for the pitiless gang-rape of a young woman in Delhi last December resulting in her death, a verdict that was applauded across the nation.

Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna, who presided over a fast-track court that finished the trial in seven months, said their "hair rising beastly and unparalleled behaviour" definitely qualified it as one of the "rarest of rare cases".

"Hence, I award the following punishment to each of the convicts," the judge said, symbolically breaking the nib of the pen. Accordingly, "the convicts be hanged by neck till they are dead."

However, their execution might still be some time away. Defence lawyer V.K. Anand said he will appeal to the high court against the sentencing. The convicts have also a last recourse to the Supreme Court and if, that also fails, the president of India.

The four men - Mukesh (26), Pawan Gupta (19), Vinay Sharma (20) and Akshay Thakur (28)- were convicted Tuesday in the case that jolted India and caught global attention.

The judge sentenced the four to death for murdering the 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist. On Tuesday he had found the four guilty on 11 counts, including murder, gang rape and dacoity.

The mother of the 23-year-old victim said she is "very satisfied" with the judgment and finally at peace.

"I am satisfied now, and we are finally at peace. They have been given the punishment which they truly deserved," she told IANS as tears welled up in her eyes.

"If they appeal to the high court, we will fight back. We are prepared for a very long battle to get justice," said the mother of the physiotherapy intern.

According to the victim's brother, the four accused "got what they deserved."

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde echoed the national sentiments when he said: "Justice was given to the girl and the family.

"It passes on the message that if you commit this crime, this is the punishment you will get," he declared.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj said the death penalty will act as a deterrent for such offences.

The court, in awarding the death sentence, said the convict's "inhuman acts of torture" before her (victim) death had not only "shocked the collective conscience" but calls for the withdrawal of the protective arm of the community around them.

It also said when gruesome crimes against women have become rampant, the courts cannot turn a blind eye to the need to send a strong deterrent message to its perpetrators.

"The crime of such nature against a helpless women, per se, require exemplary punishment," he added.

As soon as the judge read out the sentence, Vinay Sharma fell down and started whimpering "Sir ji, Sir ji (please sir, please sir)" addressing the judge.

But soon the police took all the accused away.

Additional Public Prosecutor Dayan Krishnan said after the judgment was delivered: "All I can say is that I have done my job. I have never seen brutality like this."

Mukesh's lawyer Anand said: "We will appeal in the high court. This did not deserve death sentence."

After the judgment was announced, there was loud cheering outside District Court, Saket, where hundreds of people had gathered since noon in anticipation of the judgment.

The 23-year-old woman was brutally gang raped on a moving bus by six people, including a juvenile. The accused then threw her and her male companion out of the vehicle -- without clothes -- on the cold December night.

The woman died of grave intestinal injuries Dec 29 at Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital where she had been airlifted for specialised treatment.

One of the six accused was found dead in a cell in Delhi's Tihar Jail while a juvenile involved in the crime was Aug 31 sent by the Juvenile Justice Board to a reform home for three years, the maximum under the juvenile law.

(Garima Tyagi can be contacted at garima.t@ians.in)

--Indo-Asian New Service

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