A death warrant has been issued for the four men convicted of the 2012 gang-rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in Delhi, which galvanised protests across India and brought global attention to the country’s sexual violence epidemic.
An Indian court in the capital scheduled the hangings for January 22.
Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh were sentenced to death by a fast-track court in 2013. Lawyers for the men plan to launch last-ditch legal challenges.
The warrant had been anticipated since India’s Supreme Court rejected one of the men’s final review pleas last month.
The men cannot be executed until the Supreme Court rejects their final challenge, and the Indian president also rejects their mercy petitions. They are yet to file either.
At Tuesday’s hearing, the public prosecutor urged the court to go ahead and issue a death warrant – he argued that not filing the appeals was a delaying tactic.
The victim’s mother – who has previously questioned why the process has taken so long – welcomed the news on Tuesday.
“I am very happy that the court has issued death warrants for all the four convicts today,” she told the BBC. “We have fought the legal battle with a lot of patience for the last more than seven years.
“I finally get justice.”
The incident – which happened on the night of 16 December 2012 – sparked massive protests, global outrage and led to India passing new anti-rape laws.
The victim was dubbed Nirbhaya – the fearless one – by the press, as she could not be named under Indian law.
Six men were arrested for the attack. One suspect, Ram Singh, was found dead in jail in March 2013, after committing suicide.
Another, who was aged 17 at the time, was released in 2015 after serving three years in a reform facility – the maximum term possible for a juvenile in India. (Source: BBC)