India court convicts teens over gang-rapes

2014-07-15 14:36
(Dibyangshu Sarkar, AFP)

(Dibyangshu Sarkar, AFP)

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Mumbai - A Mumbai court convicted two teenage boys on Tuesday over separate gang-rapes that shocked the city in a verdict that came days after an Indian minister said juvenile suspects should be treated as adults in rape cases.

Two 17-year-olds were found guilty - one over the gang-rape of a photographer and another over the gang-rape of a telephone operator in the same abandoned mill compound in the city last year, public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told AFP.

He said the pair, who cannot be named for legal reasons, would be sent to a reform institution in Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, for three years.

"They should keep good behaviour and vocational guidance will be given to them," Nikam added.

Three men were in April ordered to hang for their involvement in both the gang-rape cases, the first death sentences to be handed down for multiple sex attacks since the law was toughened last year.

Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Development in Narendra Modi's new right-wing government, said on Sunday that juveniles accused of rape should be treated on a par with adults.

"For premeditated murder, rape, if we bring them into the purview of the adult world, then it will scare them," she told reporters in the southern city of Chennai.

A series of mass protests over the levels of sexual violence in India, sparked by the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi late in 2012, prompted the government to amend the law and allow the death penalty for repeat rape offenders.

In the Delhi gang-rape case, the role played by a 17-year-old sparked a debate about whether under-18s convicted of serious crimes should be subject to harsher punishments.

A fourth man has been jailed for life over the telephone operator's rape and a fifth over the photographer's, which shook Mumbai as a city that had long been considered safer for women than the capital.

The 22-year-old photographer was attacked while on assignment with a male colleague in the overgrown mill compound, close to an upscale neighbourhood as well as slums from which most of the rapists hailed.

The phone operator, attacked in the same place, came forward after reading about the photographer's ordeal.

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