An Indian court Tuesday found four men guilty of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi last year -- a crime that shocked the South Asian nation.
The four men -- Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh -- will be sentenced Wednesday, the Delhi court said.
The outcry over the vicious attack convulsed India, prompting angry protests over women's treatment in Indian society and the introduction of tougher punishments for sexual abuse.
The victim's parents had tears in their eyes as Judge Yogesh Khanna read out the verdict, in which he said the men had been convicted of "committing the murder of a helpless victim." Her brother wiped a tear from his cheek.
The father of the victim, whose name has been withheld under Indian law, has called for the four defendants to face the death penalty.
"We have faith in the judiciary. The accused should be hanged," he told CNN sister network IBN in an interview that aired Monday.
The men, aged between 19 and 28, had pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder, rape and kidnapping. But amid a heavy media and security presence Tuesday, the court convicted them on all counts.
Lawyers for the four men said Tuesday their clients will appeal the guilty verdict.
Two others accused
The fate of two others accused in the case had already been decided.
One man, Ram Singh, 35, was found dead in his jail cell in March. Authorities said he had hanged himself, but his family claimed he had been murdered.
Saturday, a juvenile court convicted a teenage boy for his part in the gang rape, sentencing him to three years in a special juvenile correctional facility.
His trial was in juvenile court because he was 17 at the time of the crime, and the sentence is the maximum allowed under the court's rules.
The victim's mother said she was unhappy with the verdict and wants the teenager to be hanged.
A return to executions?
Family members are not alone in their desire for capital punishment. Calls for the execution of those responsible for the attack have been widespread in India.
Kiran Bedi, a human rights activist and former Indian police officer, said Monday that a death sentence would send a "very powerful message" to a country bedeviled by sexual violence.
"A brutal crime gets absolutely severe punishment, so it's in proportion to the brutality of the crime," she said.
Death sentences issued by Indian courts have rarely been carried out in the past decade. No state executions took place in the country between 2004 and late 2012, when the last surviving gunman from the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai was hanged.
But human rights advocates have said they fear that India's stance on executions has changed.
"In the past year, India has made a full-scale retreat from its previous principled rejection of the death penalty," Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said last month.
A brutal attack
The brutality of the New Delhi attack, as described by police and prosecutors, helped stir the strong emotions surrounding the case.
On the evening of December 16, the victim, a physiotherapy student, had gone to see the movie "The Life of Pi" with a male friend at a New Delhi mall.
During their journey home to the suburbs, they boarded a bus at a major intersection in upmarket South Delhi.