March 20 (UPI) — India on Friday executed four men convicted of the gruesome gang rape and killing of a 23-year-old medical student in 2012 that rocked the nation.
The four men — Akshay Thakur, 31; Pawan Gupta, 25; Vinay Sharma, 26; and Mukesh Singh, 32 — were hanged to death at 5:30 a.m. at New Delhi’s Tihar Jail after the Supreme Court rejected a last-minute plea filed by one of the convicts.
“Doctor has examined the bodies and declared all four dead,” said Tihar Jail Director-General Sandeep Goel, the Press Trust of India reported.
The men were sentenced to death in 2013 for the Dec. 16, 2012, brutal slaying of the woman, now known as “Nirbhaya” or “fearless” in Hindi, on a bus in New Delhi.
“We finally got justice,” Nirbhaya’s mother, Asha Devi, told reporters after the men were hanged. “We will continue our fight for justice for India’s daughters. Justice delayed, but not denied.”
Prosecutors said five men and a male juvenile attacked the woman and her male companion on the bus, and one of the men committed suicide during the trial while the juvenile was tried separately and was released from a correctional home in 2015.
According to the death sentence verdict, the men “brutally gang-raped [the woman], inflicted inhuman torture and threw the defenseless victims out of the moving bus in naked condition, profusely bleeding in a cold winter night.”
Both victims were hospitalized and the woman died two weeks later following several surgeries. According to the verdict, she suffered severe internal injuries.
“I am leave here while saying that the gravity of the incident depicts the hair rising beastly and unparalleled behavior,” the sentencing judge wrote in the verdict. “The subjecting of the prosecutrix to inhuman acts of torture before her death had only shocked the collective conscience but calls for the withdrawal of the protective arm of the community around the convicts.”
The crime occurred amid “rampant” attacks committed against women in the country, the judge said, and her assault spurred protests in India, accusing the government of failing to adequately protect women.
The men were scheduled to be hanged in January, but their death warrants were deferred by a court three times until a trial court issued new warrants earlier this month for Friday.
“Justice has prevailed,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted after the men were pronounced dead. “It is of utmost importance to ensure dignity and safety of women.”