Delhi gang-rape four must hang, prosecutor tells Indian court

Perpetrators of crime that shocked a nation will learn their fate on Friday

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 2:56pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 1:50pm

The prosecutor in the fatal New Delhi gang-rape case yesterday called for all four rapists to be hanged, saying their crime shocked the conscience of India.

Earlier, one of the defendants shouted out his innocence as police drove him into the court.

Video: Prosecution seeks death for Delhi gang rapists

It was not clear which of the four men was shouting, because his face was obscured behind the police van's heavy metal mesh, but he repeatedly called out, "I am innocent! I am innocent!" as the van drove past reporters.

The men were convicted on Tuesday of the December gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a moving New Delhi bus, a brutal crime that unleashed a wave of public anger over the treatment of Indian women and a long-unspoken epidemic of sexual violence. The victim died two weeks after the attack.

Judge Yogesh Khanna said their sentence would be handed down tomorrow afternoon.

The four face life imprisonment or death by hanging. Calls for the men to be executed have grown increasingly loud, with everyone from the victim's parents to top political leaders demanding the men be sentenced to death.

Prosecutor Dayan Krishnan said the attack shocked India's "collective conscience", noting the police report showed the men pulled out some of the victim's body parts after savagely penetrating her with an iron rod.

"There can be nothing more diabolic than a helpless girl put through torture," he said.

The four men sat in the back of the tiny courtroom in T-shirts or polo shirts, unshackled and with policemen holding them from both sides. They appeared impassive, though it was not clear how much they understood of the proceedings. Most of the day's arguments were in English, a language that only one of the men, Vinay Sharma, is able to speak. They had no translator.

The family of the victim watched from one row in front of the prisoners, close enough to touch one another.

When the hearing ended, they again called for the men to be hanged. "They finished our daughter," said the father, who cannot be named under Indian laws guarding his daughter's identity as a rape victim. "We want them finished."

An airport baggage handler who makes a little more than US$200 a month, he and his wife broke with the conservative rural culture in which they had been raised, encouraging their daughter to study hard and even leave home to get a degree in physiotherapy.

At the time of the attack, she was awaiting her exam results.

India had an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment that lasted eight years, ending with the November 2012 execution of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunmen in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Two months later, Mohammad Afzal Guru, convicted of a deadly 2001 attack on India's Parliament, was also hanged.