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Delhi Gang Rape: Court To Deliver Verdict
A court in New Delhi is expected to announce its verdict on a juvenile suspect accused of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a bus last year.
The juvenile justice board in New Delhi has postponed its verdict four times in the past but is now likely to pass judgement on the teenager whose court case ended in July.
If convicted, the maximum sentence that he can receive is three years at a correction facility, which will include the time he spent in custody during the case that stirred the nation's soul.
Sky News spoke to the friend of the victim who was with the physiotherapy student on that fateful night of the attack.
He criticised what he sees as the leniency of India's juvenile justice system, which seeks to reform rather than punish criminals under 18.
He said: "As a survivor, I am angry. Where is the justice to the victim's family and friends? People blame circumstances for making a juvenile a criminal but I see a failure of the judicial and social system."
The family of the victim campaigned for the juvenile be treated as an adult, alongside five other adults who were also charged with the rape of murder of the woman.
Earlier this year, the victim's father Badri Singh told Sky News that all the accused must be given the death penalty. Only then, he said, would his daughter get justice.
Her parents intend to appeal to the higher courts on the matter, but lawyers say the juvenile laws will have to be amended if any change is expected in the case.
The Supreme Court is hearing a plea for a change in the juvenile age, and to consider the mental and intellectual level of a minor offender.
The juvenile, who was 17 years old when he committed the crime, pleaded not guilty during his court case.
He refuted in court the police charge sheet that he was the "most brutal" of all the six accused men. His lawyers submitted there was no medical evidence to connect him to the charges and no fingerprints could be detected within the bus to show complicity.
A native of Uttar Pradesh, the suspect came to Delhi when he was 11.
He worked at a number of road side restaurants before taking up a cleaner's job on the bus. He told the court he was a victim of the alleged ringleader of the group, Ram Singh, for whom he worked and "as not paid by for months".
The crime, which saw the woman die of internal injuries inflicted during the savage attack on a moving bus in December last year, generated a wave of protests against sex crimes against women in India.
It pressurised the government into enacting new laws and fast-track courts to try cases of crimes against women.
In March, the Indian parliament passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, or anti-rape law. The law has called for stringent punishments for offences of rape, stalking, voyeurism and acid attacks.
A parliamentary committee on empowering women has recommended a reduction in the age of male juveniles from 18 to 16 years.
The committee had noted a 10.5% increase in crimes against women by juveniles in 2011, but the government decided against lowering the age.
The trial of the other accused - Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur - is taking place at a fast-track court in New Delhi.
They have been charged with gang rape, murder, criminal conspiracy, unnatural sex and robbery. The trial is expected to wrap up in the next few weeks, with the men facing a possible death sentence if convicted.
Over 800 pages of evidence were presented to the court and 82 witnesses examined.
A fifth man, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in jail in March.