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India’s Supreme Court Upholds 2012 Gang Rape Sentences

by AFP

Sajjad Hussain—AFP

Court rejects appeal against death penalty for four men convicted in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case

India’s Supreme Court on Friday upheld the death sentences of four men convicted for the 2012 gang rape and murder of a Delhi student.

Justice Dipak Misra said the 23-year-old woman had suffered a “devastating hour of darkness” as the court rejected an appeal against the death penalty, which was handed down in 2013. Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, was raped and left for dead by a gang of five men and a teenager after she boarded a private bus while going home from the cinema with a male friend. She died of grievous internal injuries 13 days later.

The brutality of the attack, and her determination to survive long enough to identify her attackers to police, triggered large-scale angry street protests as well as soul-searching about India’s treatment of women. Four men were convicted in September 2013 for murder, gang rape, theft, conspiracy and “unnatural acts” after a seven-month trial in a fast-track court.

A fifth man, the suspected ringleader, was found dead in jail in a suspected suicide, while the 17-year-old was sentenced to three years in a detention center and has since been released.

Sentencing the four in 2013, Judge Yogesh Khanna said the case fell into the “rarest of rare category” which justifies capital punishment in India.

Media reports said a round of applause went up in court as the judgment was read out on Friday at the end of an appeal hearing that began last year.

Women’s rights activist Ranjana Kumari called it a “historic judgment.”

“This is a historic message to all the people, the criminal mindset who wrong women, who inflict violence on women, to know that if you do something like this you will be also paying for it by the severest punishment that exists in our laws of the land,” she said on Indian news channel NDTV.

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