April 4, 2014 3:38 am

India sentences 24 men for raping teen held for several weeks

Indian physiotherapy students hold placards at a rally on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013.

AP Photo/Saurabh Das
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NEW DELHI – One man was sentenced to life and 23 others to varying prison terms on Friday for raping a teenager who was kidnapped and held for several weeks in southern India 18 years ago, a prosecutor said.

The 16-year-old victim was abducted in 1996 and raped in homes, hotels, cars and public buses by the attackers over the next one and a half months. The men convicted in the case Friday included a retired professor, lawyers, businessmen and government officials.

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Prosecutor Anella George said the high court in Ernakulam town in Kerala state sentenced 23 of the defendants to 7 to 11 years in prison.

India’s justice system moves notoriously slow, but a brutal gang rape and murder in New Delhi unleashed public anger over the treatment of women and a long-unspoken epidemic of sexual violence. Faster trials were among the changes in the legal system as a result.

In that December 2012 case, four men were sentenced to death for attacking the 23-year-old medical student on a moving bus in New Delhi.

In the Kerala case, a court had acquitted all but one of the accused in 2005. But India’s top court ordered a retrial last year, which was completed in six months, George said.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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