The four men convicted for December’s notorious gang rape and murder of a young woman in New Delhi, India, were given the death penalty on Friday.
“It took all of 90 seconds” for the judge to announce his decision and then leave the courtroom, NPR’s Julie McCarthy reports from New Delhi. One of the four convicted men “shrieked and slumped,” while outside a cheer went up when spectators heard the news, she adds.
After the judge signed the document condemning the men to death, Julie says, he broke his pen — “symbolizing the hope that he would not have to impose the death penalty again.”
As NPR has previously reported, “the horrific crime stirred a national debate over the country’s lax prosecution of crimes against women and became an international issue as well.” There were protests across the country, and the government was pressured into toughening the laws about violence against women and sexual assault.
Earlier this week, after the men’s conviction, Julie spoke about how the judge “went to great lengths to describe the crime”:
“He talked about how they lured this woman onto a bus. They turned off the lights. She believed she was on a normal bus; she wasn’t at all. They pinned her down. They took turns raping her.
“They threw her off the bus naked. They stole all her belongings. And everyone was found equally guilty. So guilty on gang rape, guilty for murder, guilty for kidnapping and unnatural offenses, which really speaks to the brutality of this attack.”
Last month, a juvenile defendant was also found guilty. He was given the maximum sentence for someone his age — three years in detention.
Another man accused in the case was found hanging in his jail cell back in March. While authorities have said he committed suicide, the man’s family has alleged that foul play was involved in his death.
We’ll have more about the men’s sentencing later. They can appeal their cases, and death penalties must be confirmed by India’s High Court before being carried out, The Associated Press says.
Update at 8:40 a.m. ET. More From The Courtroom:
While the courtroom was “packed with police, lawyers and the family of the victim,” Julie tells us, as the judge arrived to deliver the sentence “you could hear a pin drop.”
The judge “swept in, sat down, opened a folder” and said he would read from India’s law on murder. “With the speed of summer lightning,” Julie says, he read his decision. (We posted an excerpt from that earlier.)
One of the convicted men, 26-year-old Mukesh Singh, had arrived in the courtroom with “a half smile on his face,” Julie writes. Another of the men, 26-year-old Vinay Sharma, looked terrified.
The quiet turned to chaos after the judge’s decision. There was shrieking — a Reuters reporter says Sharma broke down.
The victim’s mother, meanwhile, told reporters that “my daughter got her dying wish, this is what she wanted.”
Update at 7:30 a.m. ET. Judge Says Men Don’t Deserve “Protective Arm Of The Community.”
In his short statement Friday, Judge Yogesh Khanna said in part that:
“These are the times when gruesome crimes against women have become rampant and courts cannot turn a blind eye to the need to send a strong deterrent message to the perpetrators of such crimes. …
“The subjecting of the [victim] to inhuman acts of torture before her death … not only shocked the collective conscience but calls for the withdrawal of the protective arm of the community around the convicts. This ghastly act of the convicts definitely fits this case in the bracket of rarest of rare cases.”