A court in India has found a juvenile guilty of rape and murder in connection with the gang-rape of a physiotherapy student in December last year, a crime that caused angry protests.
“He has been held guilty for rape and murder and sentenced to three years subject to review,” Anil Sharma, the chief investigating officer in the case, told reporters outside the court in the capital on Saturday.
The teenager, believed to be the most brutal of the group, will be sent to correctional facility as he was tried as a minor since he was 17 at the time of the crime.
The maximum sentence under the present Indian Juvenile Justice Act is three years.
“We will study the judgement and may appeal the verdict,” said Rajesh Tewari, the defence lawyer, moments after the verdict came out.
The first verdict in the case comes after four delays since the wrapping up of testimony and legal arguments.
The victim’s mother emerged from the court in tears, saying “he got just three years … from December onwards he has been given three years”.
The victim’s family had earlier called for the teenager to be given the death penalty, saying the juvenile justice system, which seeks to reform rather than punish, was too lenient.
“A case that shocked the nation and the world, it put the spotlight on women’s rights and women’s protection in India, and it’s an issue that has been debated ever since in the country,” Al Jazeera’s Nidhi Dutt said from New Delhi.
The teenager was charged over a savage attack on a woman and her male companion on a moving bus on December 16.
Six men were initially arrested over the crime in which the 23-year-old student was raped and assaulted with an iron bar.
Her male companion was also allegedly beaten up before both were thrown from the bus.
The student died in a Singapore hospital two weeks later from internal injuries inflicted during the attack.
The attack sparked street protests over India’s failure to protect women from violence and led to parliament passing a tougher law against sex crime.
The gang-rape of a 22-year-old photographer in the financial hub of Mumbai this month rekindled anger over the safety of women in India.
The trial of four adult suspects continues, but is expected to wrap up in the next few weeks, with the men facing a possible death sentence if convicted.
The fifth adult died in jail in an apparent suicide.