The four defendants involved in a 2012 gang rape case in India's capital, New Delhi, were found guilty Tuesday of raping and killing a 23-year-old, a brutal crime that made international headlines and galvanized public anger over the widespread sexual violence faced by Indian women.
Judge Yogesh Khanna said in his verdict that the men, who tricked the 23-year-old rape victim and a male friend of hers into boarding the bus they were driving, had committed "murder of a helpless person."
The victim, a popular physiotherapy student, died of her injuries on December 29 in a Singapore hospital.
The parents of the woman, who cannot be identified under Indian law, had tears in their eyes as the verdicts were read. They have been at the forefront of calls for the defendants to be hanged if found guilty of the December 16 attack in New Delhi, which triggered mass protests as well as new anti-rape laws.
Speaking before the convictions, the father of the victim called for the four to be executed.
"For what happened with her, these brutes must be hanged," he told reporters as he left home for the courthouse. "Nothing but the death penalty is acceptable to us."
The hearing lasted only a few minutes, and the four men were quickly led from the courtroom by policemen after the verdicts were read.
The sentences are expected to be handed down Wednesday. A new Indian law applies a maximum sentence of 20 years for convicted rapists.
As word of the verdict filtered out, protesters outside the courthouse chanted "Hang them! Hang them!"
The men were convicted on all 11 counts against them, including rape and murder, and now face the possibility of hanging.
The four men, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma, had all pleaded not guilty to the charges which included murder, rape and theft.
A juvenile had already been sentenced to three years, while a fifth adult defendant, bus driver Ram Singh, was found dead in his prison cell in March while awaiting trial.
Protesters called the Dec. 16 attack a wake-up call for India, where women have long talked quietly of enduring everything from sexual comments to public groping to rape, but where they would often face blame themselves if they complained publicly.
"Every girl at any age experiences this — harassment or rape. We don't feel safe," said law school graduate Rabia Pathania. "That's why we're here. We want this case to be an example for every other case that has been filed and will be filed."
Lawyers for the men have insisted they were tortured — a common occurrence in India's chaotic criminal justice system — and that confessions, which were later retracted, were coerced.
A.P. Singh, who at times has worked as a lawyer for all the men, said they were innocent.
"These accused have been framed simply to please the public," he told reporters. "This is not a fair trial."
The men were identified by the young woman's friend, and police say they could be seen on security cameras near the bus.
The men, most of them from a crowded New Delhi neighborhood of brick shanties filled by migrants from poor rural villages, were joy-riding around the city in an off-duty bus when police say they came across the woman and her friend waiting at a bus stop. The pair — by most accounts they were not romantically involved — were heading home after an evening showing of "Life of Pi" at a high-end mall just a short walk from the courthouse where Tuesday's verdict was read.
It wasn't late. It wasn't a bad neighborhood. The bus, by all appearances, was just a way for the two to get home.
Instead, the attackers beat the friend into submission, held down the woman and repeatedly raped her. They penetrated her with a metal rod, causing severe internal injuries that led to her death two weeks later.
The woman, who was from another poor migrant family, had recently finished her exams for a physiotherapy degree. Her father earned a little over $200 a month as an airport baggage handler. She was, the family hoped, their path to the bottom rungs of India's growing middle class.
The seven-month trial in Delhi has heard more than 100 witnesses, including 85 for the prosecution.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press