NEW DELHI, (Reuters) – Four men were found guilty yesterday of the fatal gang-rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi, a crime that shook India to its core and forced Indians to confront the issue of rampant sexual violence in a society undergoing wrenching change.
Arguments on sentencing are due to begin today, a court official said. All four could be hanged for the murder conviction.
With tears in her eyes and wearing a pink sari, the mother of the 23-year-old victim sat just a few feet from the four men who stood against a wall in the court as Judge Yogesh Khanna read the verdict.
“I convict all of the accused. They have been found guilty of gang rape, unnatural offences, destruction of evidence … and for committing the murder of the helpless victim,” Khanna said.
The case resonated with thousands of urban Indians who took to the streets in fury after the attack. Her path through education onto the first rungs of middle-class life seemed to epitomize the aspirations of millions of young women in the world’s second most populous nation.
The brutality of the attack shocked even in India, where newspapers daily publish a grim litany of sex crimes against women.
India is the worst place among G20 countries to be a woman, according to a global poll last year by TrustLaw, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Bus cleaner Akshay Kumar Singh, gym instructor Vinay Sharma, fruit-seller Pawan Gupta, and unemployed Mukesh Singh were found guilty of luring the woman and a male friend onto the bus on the night of Dec. 16 as the pair returned home from watching a movie at a mall across the street from the court where they were found guilty.
As the bus drove through the streets of the capital, the men repeatedly raped and tortured the victim with a metal bar before dumping her and her friend, naked and semi-conscious, on the road. She died in a Singapore hospital two weeks later of internal injuries.