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Mumbai court convicts four men in gang-rape of photojournalist

A Mumbai court has found four men guilty in connection with the gang rape of a 23-year-old photojournalist. The men could face a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

Four men involved in the sexual assault of a young photojournalist were found guilty of several charges on Thursday, including rape, unnatural sex and destruction of evidence. The Mumbai court was to hand down a sentence the following day to Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali, Salim Ansari and Siraj Rehman, each of whom could face life imprisonment. The fifth man allegedly involved in the incident is being tried in a juvenile court.

“The verdict will send a strong message to other offenders. It will act as a deterrent,” R.R. Patil, the home minister for Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is located, told reporters following the verdict.

The case on Thursday stemmed from an incident in August when a 23-year-old student and her male colleague were approached by five men while exploring an abandoned factory for a report. The isolated site was located in a fast-growing district of India's business capital. The exchange soon turned violent, with the men in question gang raping the female student and beating her male companion.

Violence against women in India has increasingly dominated headlines following the rape and death of a young woman in New Delhi in 2012. Five of the six men found guilty in that case were sentenced to death. One of the men committed suicide a year ago, while the sixth - a minor at the time - faces three years in a correctional home.

Widespread protests and public outrage motivated Indian lawmakers to introduce more stringent anti-rape laws, including a measure which allows courts to sentence repeat offenders to death. The new law also broadens the definition of sexual assault.

kms/pfd (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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