A court in the Indian capital New Delhi on Monday convicted five men of the gang-rape of a Danish tourist in New Delhi in 2014, a crime which put India’s record on sexual violence back in the spotlight.
The five were found guilty of the rape and robbery of the 52-year-old woman, who was attacked at knifepoint after losing her way as she returned to her hotel in central Delhi in 2014.
“I pronounce all the accused guilty. Arguments (on sentencing) to be held on June 9,” Additional Sessions Judge Ramesh Kumar told the court in the capital where media and relatives of the accused had gathered.
Three others charged over the attack are being tried separately in the juvenile justice system. A ninth accused, an adult, died before the end of the trial.
Under new tougher laws the minimum punishment for gang rape is imprisonment for 20 years along with a fine while the maximum is life.
The Danish woman, travelling alone and in Delhi after visiting the Taj Mahal, had approached a group of men for directions as she returned to an area popular with backpackers, reports at the time said.
The assault in January 2014 was the latest in a series of sex attacks on foreigners in India which reignited concerns about women’s safety in the country.
A Polish woman had been drugged and raped as she travelled to Delhi with her young daughter in a car, just before the attack on the Danish woman.
India’s government toughened jail sentences for rapists and overhauled policing procedures in the wake of the gang-rape of a Delhi student on a moving bus in December 2012. She later died in a Singapore hospital.
That attack sparked furious mass street protests about high levels of violence against women, as well as global headlines about the treatment of women in India.
On Monday the five accused showed little emotion as the verdicts were read out. Neither the victim nor members of her family were in court.
Immediately after the incident, the victim had given a detailed statement to police at the Danish embassy in the capital before leaving for home.
She returned to India in July the following year to record her in-camera testimony before the trial court judge, and identify the accused.
The prosecution submitted that the evidence irrefutably proved the case against the accused but the suspects pleaded not guilty, claiming that they had been framed by police.
Defence counsel Dinesh Sharma told AFP that Monday’s verdicts were handed down even though he was still awaiting the outcome of a request before a more senior judge to reopen the trial.
“We had filed a revision plea in the High Court seeking recall of some of the witnesses,” Sharma said.
“The matter is listed in the High Court… but even before this matter could be taken up, the verdict has been announced.”