Indian court sentences three to death for fatal gang-rape

NEW DELHI (AFP) - An Indian court on Wednesday sentenced three men to death for abducting and raping a 19-year-old woman whose mutilated body was found days later, reports said.

An attorney in the case told the court that acid had been poured into the eyes of the victim and a broken liquor bottle forced into her private parts, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported.

The body of the young woman, who was working while pursuing her undergraduate studies, was found rotting in a village field in Haryana state three days later.

The three men were convicted of kidnapping, murder and gang-rape.

The court said the men, all in their 20s, should receive the harshest sentence for the 2012 attack because their crimes fell into the "rarest of rare" category under Indian law.

"Death to all three," presiding judge Virender Bhat was quoted by PTI as saying.

The father of the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, welcomed the judgement, saying he has been so consumed with fighting for justice for his daughter that he has been unable to hold down a job.

"I fought a lone battle for two years, and it has paid off," the father, 45, who was in court to hear the sentences, told AFP.

The government toughened laws on sexual violence against women in March last year, following outrage at the fatal gang-rape of a student on a Delhi bus in December 2012.

Four adults were sentenced to death last year over that attack, a crime that sparked seething anger about the treatment of women in India.

The new laws allow for the death penalty in cases where a rape victim dies from the attack or is left in a vegetative state.

The woman, who worked as an assistant with a private company in the megacity of Gurgaon on Delhi's outskirts, was dragged into a car near her home in February 2012 before being gang-raped, PTI said.

The sentence comes amid a renewed debate in India about the death penalty, after the country's top court this week spared three people who plotted to kill former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi from the hangman's noose.

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