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Delhi gangrape convicts hanged; justice delivered, says family

NEW DELHI, March 20, 2020

Four Indian men convicted of the gang rape and murder of a student in Delhi in 2012 were hanged today (March 20) after the Supreme Court, which held a midnight hearing, rejected a last-minute plea filed by one of the convicts seeking a review of the death penalty, reported BBC.
 
Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh were sentenced to death by a trial court in 2013.
 
The four were hanged in the capital's high-security Tihar prison in the first executions in India since 2015, when terrorist Yakub Memon was hanged for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts that claimed 317 lives.
 
The victim died from her injuries days after being raped by six men on a moving bus. The incident caused outrage and led to new anti-rape laws in India.
 
The 23-year-old physiotherapy student was dubbed Nirbhaya - the fearless one - by the press as she could not be named under Indian law.
 
She had boarded an off-duty bus at around 20:30 local time on December 16, 2012 with a male friend. They were returning home after watching a film at an upscale mall.
 
The six men, who were already on board, attacked the couple, taking turns to rape the woman, before brutally assaulting her with an iron rod. 
 
Six people were arrested for the attack. One of them, Ram Singh, was found dead in jail in March 2013, having apparently taken his own life.
 
Another, who was 17 at the time of the attack, was released in 2015 after serving three years in a reform facility - the maximum term possible for a juvenile in India.
 
Minutes after the convicts were hanged on Friday morning, the victim's mother said, "I hugged my daughter's photograph and told her we finally got justice."
 
Her father said that his "faith in the judiciary had been restored".
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said justice has prevailed after the four men were hanged.
 
"It is of utmost importance to ensure dignity and safety of women. Our Nari Shakti has excelled in every field. Together, we have to build a nation where the focus is on women empowerment, where there is emphasis on equality and opportunity," he tweeted.
 
Nirbhaya case convicts' hanging is a message for every criminal that one day law will catch up with you, said Smriti Irani, Union minister for Women and Child Development.
 
Talking to the media in the Parliament, Irani said: "This morning has brought a ray of hope. Although very late, but justice has been served ultimately. This is a strong message for every single person in this country who dares to outrage the modesty of women, who thinks that he will escape from the clutch of law after committing heinous crime against women. It is a message that one day the law will catch up with you."
 
The Minister expressed her confidence that the justice was finally served in the matter where the four death row convicts were playing hide and seek with the law of the land. 
 
In the last few months, all four convicts filed petitions in the Supreme Court in a bid to reduce their sentences to life imprisonment. 
 
But the top court rejected their petitions, leaving the men with no other legal recourse. 
 
Explaining the legal options, an expert said a trial court may pronounce the death sentence only in the “rarest of the rare” cases — and such a sentence is automatically referred to the High Court for confirmation. 
 
A warrant of execution may only be issued once the sentence has been confirmed by the High Court. The convict then has the option of approaching the Supreme Court against the High Court’s decision. After the Supreme Court’s decision, the convict may file a review petition, and a separate curative petition before the Supreme Court, said the expert while talking to the Indian Express. 
 
Both are standard legal processes, meant to rectify egregious errors in judgments, he added.
 
A last-minute appeal to have the death penalties commuted was also rejected hours before the executions.
 
Security was tight outside the prison with a large number of police and paramilitary personnel deployed to maintain law and order.
 
A group of people carrying placards had gathered outside the prison gates and began celebrating after the executions were announced.
 
Some chanted "death to rapists" and waved posters thanking the judiciary.



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