The four men had pleaded not guilty. (BBC)
NEW DELHI – Four Indian men convicted of the gang rape and murder of a student in Delhi in 2012 have been hanged.
Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh were sentenced to death by a trial court in 2013.
The four were hanged in the capital's high-security Tihar prison in the first executions in India since 2015.
The victim died from her injuries days after being raped by six men on a moving bus. The incident caused outrage and led to new anti-rape laws in India.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy student was dubbed Nirbhaya – the fearless one – by the press as she could not be named under Indian law.
Six people were arrested for the attack. One of them, Ram Singh, was found dead in jail in March 2013, having apparently taken his own life.
Another, who was 17 at the time of the attack, was released in 2015, after serving three years in a reform facility – the maximum term possible for a juvenile in India.
In the last few months, all four convicts filed petitions in the Supreme Court in a bid to reduce their sentences to life imprisonment. But the top court rejected their petitions, leaving the men with no other legal recourse. A last-minute appeal to have the death penalties commuted was also rejected hours before the executions.
Minutes after the convicts were hanged on Friday morning, the victim's mother said: "I hugged my daughter's photograph and told her we finally got justice."
Her father said that his "faith in the judiciary had been restored".
Security was tight outside the prison with a large number of police and paramilitary personnel deployed to maintain law and order.
A group of people carrying placards had gathered outside the prison gates and began celebrating after the executions were announced.
Some chanted "death to rapists" and waved posters thanking the judiciary.