NEW DELHI, Sept 10 – A judge will hand down the verdict Tuesday on four men accused of the fatal gang-rape of an Indian student on a bus, which could see the defendants sentenced to death.
The parents of the popular physiotherapy student have been at the forefront of calls for the four to be hanged over the December 16 attack in New Delhi which triggered mass protests as well as new anti-rape laws.
Their 23-year-old daughter, who cannot be named for legal reasons, died of her injuries on December 29 in a Singapore hospital.
The four men, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma, have all pleaded not guilty to the charges which include murder, rape and theft.
A juvenile has already been jailed for three years, while a fifth adult defendant, bus driver Ram Singh, was found hanging in his prison cell in March while awaiting trial.
The seven-month trial has been held in a special fast-track court in south Delhi, with more than 100 witnesses called to give evidence, including 85 for the prosecution.
The presiding judge Yogesh Khanna said last week that he would deliver his verdict on September 10 after dismissing requests from defence lawyers for more time.
But last-minute legal challenges could still delay Tuesday’s verdict. The sentence against the juvenile was deferred four times before being handed down.
During the trial, the prosecution laid out evidence against the four accused, including DNA, statements from a male companion who was beaten up during the attack, as well as the victim’s dying testimony.
The victim and her companion had spent the evening watching a movie at a mall in south Delhi when they were picked up by a bus.
But rather than take them home, the group are alleged to have then subjected the pair to a horrifying 45-minute ordeal which ended with both of them thrown out of the bus, virtually unconscious and naked.
In an interview ahead of the verdict, the 28-year-old companion told AFP that the assault was beyond nightmares.
“I never imagined that one human being could treat another so badly,” he told AFP.