Delhi gang rape: Death penalty for four men upheld

Sentenced rapists (from left to right): Vinay, Pawan, Mukesh, Akshay Image copyright Other
Image caption The four men plead not guilty and are expected to appeal at the Supreme Court

A court in India has upheld the death sentence given to four men convicted of the gang rape and murder of a student in the capital Delhi, a case which led to protests and new anti-rape laws.

Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta were found guilty last September.

A fifth adult suspect was found dead in his prison cell before he was tried.

The sixth member of the group, a juvenile at the time of the crime, is serving a three-year sentence.

On Thursday, Judges Reva Khetrapal and Pratibha Rani of the Delhi High Court upheld the four men's sentences, saying that the case fell in the "rarest of rare category".

"Death reference is accepted. Death sentence awarded by the trial court is affirmed. The appeals of the convicts are dismissed," the Press Trust of Indian news agency quoted the judges as saying.

Defence lawyers said earlier they would appeal to the Supreme Court if the death sentences remained in force.

The 23-year-old medical student was attacked on a moving bus in December 2012 while she was returning home after watching a film. The male friend she was with was also beaten up.

The rape shocked Indians and prompted protests across the country.

Although India has tightened its anti-rape laws and society is more openly discussing cases of violence against women, correspondents say women across India still live with the daily fear of sexual assault and victims still often have to deal with police apathy.