Delhi gang-rapists in court as lawyers prepare appeal

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Four men condemned to death for the murder and gang-rape of an Indian student were Tuesday brought back to court as their lawyers confirmed before judges that they would appeal the sentences.

The convicts were produced before the High Court in New Delhi where a panel of two judges said they would take up the case from Wednesday, the lawyer for one of the men told AFP.

"The court will start hearing the background to the case from tomorrow (Wednesday). We will file our appeal shortly," said Vivek Sharma, the counsel for Pawan Gupta.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed," Sharma added.

The lawyers for the other three convicts -- Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh -- told the court that they would also appeal the sentencing.

Lawyers had earlier indicated to reporters their intention to appeal but this was the first time that they had confirmed their move in court.

A trial court sentenced the men on September 13 over the gang rape on a bus in Delhi of the 23-year-old woman, who died nearly a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.

The court said that the crime fell into the "rarest of rare category" that justified capital punishment.

There had been a huge clamour for the gang to be executed for their attack on December 16, which shocked the nation and triggered a debate on the way women are treated.

The convicts are currently being held at the capital's high-security Tihar Jail.

They were pictured dressed in casual clothes as they entered the court premises escorted by scores of policemen.

The fifth suspect in the case, bus driver Ram Singh, died in prison in March in an apparent suicide.

A sixth member of the gang, who was a minor at the time of the assault, was sentenced last month to three years in a reformatory, the maximum penalty allowed under India's juvenile laws.

India had an unofficial eight-year moratorium on capital punishment until last November when the only surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks was executed.