India's Supreme Court rejected the death sentence appeal filed by the last of the four men convicted of raping and killing a woman in a widely reported 2012 case. Another rape victim was recently set on fire in India.
All four men involved in the 2012 New Delhi bus rape have had their appeals rejected by India's Supreme Court, with the panel confirming the last death sentence on Wednesday.
The convicted men can still file a curative petition to the court, asking it to reexamine the decision. They can also plead for mercy from the president of India.
"We have a week to seek all possible legal recourse," AP Singh, the lawyer of defendant Akshay Kumar said after Kumar's death sentence appeal was rejected on Wednesday.
"There are other convicts on death row for a longer time. Why the hurry in this case? There is a lot of public pressure," Singh said.
The brutal rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student grabbed international headlines and sparked embittered protests across India.
The victim was returning home from a cinema with a male friend in December 2012. They got on the bus where the criminals were waiting and the men beat up the victim's companion with a metal bar, raped the student and beat her with the bar, inflicting massive internal injuries.
Both victims were eventually dumped naked by the roadside. The woman died two weeks later, but not before giving a detailed statement to the police. The man survived with a broken leg and other serious injuries.
Youngest rapist already free
The six suspects were quickly found and arrested. One of them hanged himself before the trial, although his family believes he was killed. Another was determined to be a minor at the time of the act. He was sentenced to three years in a reform home and released in 2015.
The remaining four were found guilty and sentenced to death.
Following the court's decision on Wednesday, the victim's mother told reporters all four would soon be executed.
"This is one step closer to justice," she said.
India's last instance of capital punishment by hanging was in 2013.
The court's decision comes just weeks after another woman was set on fire and killed by a group of men, including two of her alleged rapists. The victim had been on her way to court appointment over her rape case.
On Monday, ex-lawmaker from the ruling party BJP Kuldeep Sengar was convicted of raping a teenager in 2017.
dj/sms (AP, Reuters, dpa)