These four men, who were sentenced to death for the horrific gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical intern in Delhi last year, walked into a High Court in New Delhi to challenge their guilty verdicts and death penalties on Tuesday, Sept. 24.
On Sept. 13, a judge ordered the men to be "hanged by neck until they are dead" for the "cold-blooded" rape and murder of the victim. In India, death penalties must be confirmed by a higher court.
Lawyers for the men are challenging their death sentences in New Delhi's High Court, which will hear the prosecution's arguments supporting the guilty verdicts while the defense lawyers will file their appeals. This process could take weeks or months before their death sentences are confirmed.
The High Court judge, Pratibha Rani, said, "We have to deal with this as expeditiously as possible because the sword of death is hanging over them."
On Tuesday, three of the four men walked into the High Court with their faces uncovered in public for the first time. The fourth one covered his face with a handkerchief.
Mukesh Singh, 20, bus cleaner: He was driving the bus that the 23-year-old and her male friend boarded. He joined his friends in raping her and beating her friend with an iron rod.
Vinay Sharma, 20, assistant gym instructor: The only high school graduate in the gang, Sharma claimed he was not on the bus when the crime took place. He said he was falsely implicated by one of the other suspects because of a fallout.
Akshay Thakur, 28, bus helper: Thakur, a school dropout, raped the victim and also cleaned the bus of evidence after the crime. A friend from his native village described Thakur as a "simple man" who had become a "beast" in the "big town of Delhi."
Pawan Gupta, 19, fruit seller: He consumed alcohol along with the others and boarded the bus looking for fun. His lawyer, who argued for life imprisonment instead of death, said Gupta was "just 19 years old and there are chances of his reform."
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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