Delhi gang rape: Four convicted men to appeal

Sentenced rapists (from left to right): Vinay, Pawan, Mukesh, Akshay
Image caption The four men had pleaded not guilty and were expected to appeal

Lawyers for four men sentenced to death for the gang rape and murder of a student in the capital Delhi say they will challenge their guilty verdicts.

Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta were convicted earlier this month.

The trial court said the case fell in the "rarest of rare category" and rejected pleas for a lighter sentence.

The woman, 23, was attacked on a bus in December and died two weeks later.

The four men were produced before the Delhi High Court on Tuesday amid tight security.

Lawyer AP Singh, who has defended all four men at various times, said he would be challenging the verdict.

The court said it would begin hearing arguments "on a day-to-day basis" from Wednesday, while the defence lawyers file their appeals against the convictions and sentences.

"We have to deal with this as expeditiously as possible because the sword of death is hanging over them [the convicted men]," Judge Pratibha Rani said.

They convicted men denied all the charges. They could take their appeal all the way to the Supreme Court and also ask the president for clemency - a process that could take years.

In August, a teenager who was found guilty of taking part in the rape was sentenced to three years in a reform facility, the maximum term possible because the crime was committed when he was 17. He also denied all the charges.

Another suspect, Ram Singh, was found dead in his cell in March. Prison officials said they believed he hanged himself but his family allege he was murdered.

The December attack sparked a national debate on the treatment of women.

Tough new laws were introduced in March which allowed the death penalty - carried out very rarely in India - to be handed down in the most serious cases of rape.