Special prosecutor Santokh Singh said in a statement to reporters outside the court in Pathankot, Punjab state, that they would be appealing the sentences passed against the accused, along with the acquittal of another man.
“The court has given the benefit of doubt to that man. And the prosecution side is definitely going to file an appeal against the acquittal… We are also filing an appeal in the other cases too for the announcement of the sentence,” said Singh.
Another accused, who has been charged as a juvenile is undergoing a separate trial.
The victim, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic group known as the Bakarwals and whose identity is protected by Indian law, was abducted while she was alone in a field grazing horses in the town of Kathua in Jammu.
The convicted men, all of whom are Hindu, locked the victim inside a Hindu temple for five days where she was drugged and repeatedly raped, before being strangled and bludgeoned to death with a rock. Her body was later discovered in a nearby forest.
The initial arrests of the men, who prosecutors said plotted the girl’s abduction as a means of scaring the predominately-Muslim nomads into vacating the region, proved to be a lightning rod in a part of India simmering with religious tensions.
The public reaction helped spur the Indian government to introduce a new law allowing for the introduction of the death penalty to those convicted of raping a child under 12.
According to India’s National Law University report, nine people have been been sentenced to death under the new sexual violence law.
For victims, justice in India’s court system is far from certain. Courts and police both face a massive backlog of cases.
According to court records, the number of sexual assault-related cases awaiting a trial date in 2016 totaled 15,450, with the courts resolving just 1,395, or less than 10% that year.
CNN’s Manveena Suri, Mukhtar Ahmad and Sugam Pokharel contributed to this report.
Source : Nbcnewyork