First conviction in case that outraged nation, of woman who was gang raped and killed on a bus in Indian capital.
An 18-year-old man has been sentenced to three years in a secure reform home for his role in the gang-rape and murder of a young woman in a moving bus in Delhi last year.
The man, a juvenile at the time of the crime, was given the maximum possible sentence.
Five other men, aged between 19 and 34, were also charged with the attack on the 23-year-old physiotherapy student. The oldest, the alleged ringleader, hanged himself in prison earlier this year.
The trial of the others is expected to conclude later this month. As adults, all face the death sentence if convicted.
The attack provoked outrage and grief in India with protests across the country. It also led to an unprecedented national discussion about sexual violence and calls for widespread changes in cultural attitudes and policing, and legal reform.
There have also been calls for individual citizens to act if the state fails to protect them. A film to be released later this year shows graphic and violent scenes of what happens when a rape victim “turns the tables” on her attacker.
India’s punishment of under-18s has been debated in the media, with protests outside the juvenile court in Delhi where the trial was held.
The Indian supreme court considered but rejected an appeal for a fresh interpretation of who can be considered juvenile during the trial.
A cover story in India Today magazine called the suspect “India’s most hated”. Describing his poverty-stricken upbringing in the chaotic and lawless state of Uttar Pradesh, the magazine said he was “as tragic as he is terrifying”.
The family of the victim, who suffered severe internal injuries when repeatedly violated with an iron bar, has called for all those guilty to be hanged, whatever their age.
“It has to be the death penalty. He should be in jail with the others,” the victim’s mother told reporters outside the courtroom.
Badri Singh, the victim’s father, told the Guardian earlier this year that the family would push for a harsher sentence by any means possible in India and internationally.
The 18-year-old, who cannot be named under Indian law, has denied all charges against him.
The prosecution claimed that the man, who left home when he was 11 to take up a series of menial jobs in Delhi, was the most violent of the attackers of the girl last December.
Activists have suggested the nature of the crime should be considered when judging juveniles.
In July, the juvenile was found guilty of robbery. All those accused of raping the woman are also charged with robbing another man earlier in the evening of the incident.
There has also been also widespread criticism of the fast-track court set up specifically to ensure rapid justice in the case, which is one of the most-high profile in India for many years.
The trial of the adult defendants started in January. The victim’s father has said the idea of a fast-track court was a farce.
“This case should’ve wound up within a month after it started … We’ve waited so long. We don’t want it to be for nothing,” he said.