NEW DELHI: Nearly nine months after they was accused for the ghastly gang-rape of a 23-year-old female physiotherapy student in a moving bus in Delhi, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur have been pronounced guilty of rape and murder by a fast-track court.
Arguments on sentencing are due to begin on Wednesday and all four could be hanged for the murder conviction, said VK Anand, the defence lawyer for one of the accused.
They had all pleaded not guilty.
"All four accused committed on all sections," said Anand.
In March, the fifth accused, Ram Singh, hanged himself from the grille in the ceiling of his prison cell. Officials said he had made a noose from the mat he slept on.
The juvenile tried separately in the same case was sentenced to three years in juvenile detention last month, the maximum penalty that could be imposed because of his age.
The victim’s parents, who were upset with the sentence awarded to the juvenile, said nothing less than death to the four accused — Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta — will mean justice for their deceased daughter.
The four accused were charged with gang rape, murder, attempt to murder, unnatural offences and destruction of evidence and dacoity among other offences.
What happened on the night of December 16, 2012
Police said the 23-year-old physiotherapy student and her friend were lured into the bus, both were beaten and then the woman was taken to the rear of the bus and raped. They were then thrown, bleeding, on to a dark roadside. The woman died in a Singapore hospital nearly two weeks later where she was airlifted for specialised treatment.
According to the chargesheet, the juvenile had subjected the 23-year-old physiotherapist to sexual abuse twice, including once when she was unconscious. He extracted her intestine with his bare hands and suggested she be thrown off the moving vehicle devoid of her clothes, it says.
"Of all the persons in the bus, two had engaged in the most barbarism - Ram Singh, the main accused in the case, and the juvenile," said an officer.
"Both of them had subjected her to sexual abuse twice. Singh was the first to rape her followed by the juvenile and then Akshay. Later, when she lost consciousness, Singh and the juvenile raped her a second time."
The juvenile used his 'sing-song' whistle to lure the couple aboard the bus.
As the bus drove through the streets of the capital, the men repeatedly raped and tortured the 23-year-old with a metal bar before dumping her and her friend, naked and semi-conscious, on the road, prosecutors said. Her friend later recovered, but the woman's internal injuries were so severe that she died in a Singapore hospital two weeks after the attack.