Teen sentenced to 3 years in Delhi gang rape case

31.08.2013 22:42

An Indian teenager was sentenced to
three years in juvenile detention on
Saturday for the December gang rape
of a trainee physiotherapist, the first
verdict in a case that sparked debate
over whether India is too soft on
young offenders.
Police say the 18-year-old and five
adult men lured the 23-year-old
woman and her male friend onto a
New Delhi bus where they repeatedly
raped her and beat them both with a
metal bar before dumping them on to
a road.
The woman died in a Singapore
hospital two weeks after the Dec. 16
attack. The case turned a global
spotlight on the treatment of women in
India, where police say a rape is
reported every 20 minutes.
"The juvenile has been found guilty
under rape and murder charges, and
accordingly sentenced to three years
of jail," Rajesh Tiwari, a lawyer for the
juvenile, told reporters.
Indian activists shout slogans durin
protest demanding harsher punish
for the juvenile accused in the New
rape case in New Delhi, India, Aug.
The lawyer said the juvenile would be
sent to a reform home to serve the
term, taking into account the months
he has already spent in detention since
his arrest.
Four of the teenager's co-accused are
still on trial and face the death penalty
if convicted. Closing arguments began
on Aug. 22 and verdicts are expected
within the next fortnight. A fifth
accused, the alleged ring-leader, killed
himself in his jail cell in March.
The teenager, who may not be named,
was tried as a juvenile as he was 17 at
the time of the attack. The maximum
penalty that could be imposed by the
Juvenile Justice Board was three years.
In January, authorities ruled he was 17,
citing school records, which shocked
the victim's family and others
clamoring for him to face the death
"You may as well set the juvenile
free, if the sentence is only three
years for heinous offences like
rape and murder," said the
victim's mother who was in tears
after the verdict.
The mother also said she would appeal
against the verdict in a higher court.
"I am not happy with this judgment. At
least in this case, the juvenile should
have been sentenced to life," the
victim's brother told Reuters.
In response to the public outcry after
the rape, the government fast-tracked
tougher laws against sex crimes, but it
resisted calls to change the juvenile law
and return the adult age to 16 from
Supreme Court petition
India's Supreme Court is currently
hearing a petition filed by Subramanian
Swamy, an opposition politician and
lawyer, that calls for the law to be
reinterpreted rather than changed.
Swamy wants a minor offender's
"emotional, intellectual and mental
maturity" to be assessed when deciding
whether to try them as a juvenile,
rather than basing the decision on age
"I felt that, with the kind of rape that
took place, if (the juvenile suspect) got
off lightly it would send a bad signal to
society," Swamy told Reuters. He plans
to launch an appeal against the verdict
reached on Saturday if the Supreme
Court rules in favor of his petition later
this year.
The teenager pleaded not guilty to all
13 charges including rape, murder and
robbery. His trial was held behind
closed doors to protect his identity
and media were barred from reporting
on any details of the proceedings.
During his trial, he has been held at a
juvenile detention facility for violent
young offenders in Delhi and kept
away from other inmates for his
The youth left home when he was 11
and got work in a roadside eatery, his
mother told Reuters in January. In
recent years he lived as a semi-vagrant,
washing buses and collecting fares,
according to a police report.
After leaving home, he never returned
and his mother said she thought he
was dead until police arrested him in
connection with the gang rape.
Some 33,000 crimes were committed
by juveniles in India last year, the
highest number in a decade, but there
has not been a large spike, according
to Home Ministry figures. Juveniles
commit a tiny proportion of total
crimes in India and far less than other
nations such as the United States.