India convicts youngest Delhi gang rape defendant

31.08.2013 22:24

NEW DELHI (AP) - An Indian
juvenile court on Saturday handed
down the first conviction in the
fatal gang rape of a young woman
on a moving New Delhi bus,
convicting a teenager of rape and
murder and sentencing him to three
years in a reform home, lawyers
The victim's parents denounced the
sentence, which was the maximum
the defendant faced. The family
had long insisted the teen, who was
17 at the time of the December
attack and is now 18, be tried as an
adult - and thus face the death
penalty - insisting he was the most
brutal of the woman's attackers.
"He should be hanged irrespective
of whether he is a juvenile or not.
He should be punished for what he
did to my daughter," the victim's
mother, Asha Devi, told reporters
after the verdict was announced.
Indian law forbids the publication
of the teen's name because he was
sentenced in a juvenile court.
The attack, which left the 23-year-
old victim with such extensive
internal injuries that she died two
weeks later, sparked protests across
the country and led to reforms of
India's antiquated sexual violence
laws. The government, facing
immense public pressure, had
promised swift justice in the case.
The convicted teen was one of six
people accused of tricking the
woman and her male companion
into boarding an off-duty bus Dec.
16 after they had seen an afternoon
showing of "Life of Pi" at an upscale
shopping mall. Police say the men
raped the woman and used a metal
bar to inflict massive internal
injuries to her. They also beat her
companion. The victims were
dumped naked on the roadside,
and the woman later died from her
injuries in a Singapore hospital.
The victim's father said the family
was deeply disappointed with the
"This is completely unacceptable to
us," Badrinath Singh said. "We are
not satisfied with this outcome. He
is virtually being set free. This is
very wrong."
"No family should have a daughter
if this is the fate that lies ahead for
women. In this country, it is crime
to be born a girl," he said.
Indian law forbids the publication
of the names of rape victims, even
if they die.
S.K. Singh, a lawyer for the victim's
family, said they would challenge
the juvenile court's verdict in a
higher court.
"We will also seek a review of the
man's age by a medical panel, since
we believe he was not a juvenile
when the incident took place," he
In India, especially in rural areas,
many people do not have their
births properly registered, and
school certificates are used as proof
of age.
Singh and the defendant's lawyer,
Rajesh Tewari, both confirmed the
conviction and sentence.
Reporters were not allowed inside
the courtroom. Scores of television
crews lined up on the road outside
the court building beginning early
Saturday, waiting for the verdict.
Four of the other defendants are
being tried in a special fast-track
court in New Delhi and face the
death penalty. The sixth accused
was found dead in his jail cell in
March. The court is expected to
hand down the rest of the verdicts
in September.
The convicted defendant was tried
as a minor on charges including
murder and rape. The time he has
spent in a juvenile home since he
was arrested in December will count
toward his sentence, Tewari said.
The attack set off furious protests
across India about the treatment of
women in the country and led to an
overhaul of sexual assault laws.
A government panel set to suggest
reforms to sexual assault laws
rejected calls to lower the age at
which people can be tried as adults
from 18 to 16.
In July, India's top court also
refused to reduce the age of a
juvenile from 18 to 16 years.
However, it later agreed to hear a
new petition seeking to take the
"mental and intellectual maturity"
of the defendant into account, and
not just age.