Calls for death penalty ahead of India gang-rape verdict

Calls for death penalty ahead of India gang-rape verdict
Indian Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor (C) takes part in a protest march against the gang-rape of a female photographer in Mumbai on August 25, 2013. Mumbai police arrested the fifth and final member of a gang suspected of raping a photographer, a crime that reignited anger about women's safety in India following a similar attack last year.

NEW DELHI, Delhi province - The family of a student who died after being brutally gang-raped in New Delhi has called for the death penalty on the eve of a court's verdict on her alleged attackers.

The court is expected to deliver its verdict on Tuesday after concluding a trial against four adults over the assault on a moving bus in December, a crime that shone a global spotlight on the rise of violence against women in India.

The New Delhi court heard that the 23-year-old physiotherapy student was repeatedly raped by six men and violated with an iron rod after being lured onto the private bus following a trip to the movies with a male friend.

The student and her friend were thrown, naked and bleeding, from the bus onto a roadside.

The student, who made statements to police from her hospital bed about her attackers, died two weeks later from internal injuries inflicted during the incident.

A teenager was this month given the maximum punishment of three years in a detention centre after he was found guilty of taking part in the attack, igniting demands for harsher punishments for juvenile offenders.

Bitterly disappointed with that sentence, the victim's father called for the four adults to be pronounced guilty and ultimately hanged, to finally give his family some sense of closure.

"We will not accept anything below the death penalty," the father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told AFP from his home in southwestern Delhi.

"Anything other than the gallows for these men will not be right. It would send out the wrong message, people will lose trust in our judicial system."

He added: "If all four are sentenced to death, I can't imagine anything being better than that. Nothing could get better ... We will get closure.

"It will bring peace to our minds and to the whole country."

The attack sparked weeks of sometimes violent street protests amid seething public anger about sex crimes against women in India.

It also led to tougher laws for sex offenders, including the death penalty for rapists whose victims die or are left in a vegetative state.

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