India court jails five for life for tourist gang rape

Policemen escort men convicted for the gang rape of a Danish woman, at a court in New Delhi, India, on June 9, 2016.
Policemen escort men convicted for the gang rape of a Danish woman, at a court in New Delhi, India, on June 9, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Five men convicted of gang-raping a Danish tourist in the Indian capital in 2014 were on Friday (June 10) sentenced to life in jail, a prosecutor said, the maximum term possible.

They were convicted on Monday of assaulting the 52-year-old woman at knifepoint as she returned to her Delhi hotel, a crime that raised fresh fears about the safety of women in the city.

"All the convicts have been sentenced to life imprisonment. They will remain in prison for the remainder of their life," public prosecutor Atul Shrivastava told reporters outside the Delhi court after the judgment.

"We had sufficient evidence to prove the charges and the court was satisfied with our arguments to hand down life sentences."

 

Shrivastava said the men were also given jail terms for more minor offences including robbery, which will run concurrently with the main sentence.

Lawyer Dinesh Sharma, who defended all five, said he would appeal their convictions.

Three others charged over the attack are being tried separately in the juvenile justice system. A ninth accused, an adult, died before the end of the trial.

India toughened its laws on sexual violence and overhauled policing procedures in the wake of the gang rape of a Delhi student on a moving bus in December 2012.

The victim later died in hospital and the incident sparked mass street protests as well as global headlines about the treatment of women in India.

The minimum punishment for gang rape is now 20 years in jail.

The victim in this case had approached a group of men for directions as she returned to an area popular with backpackers in January 2014.

She left India soon after the incident and returned in 2015 to record her testimony before the court and to identify the accused.