India rapist-murderer cites pollution in death row appeal

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 11 2019 12:47 AM

One of four Indian men on death row over the infamous 2012 Delhi gang-rape and murder appealed against his sentence on Tuesday citing pollution.

Akshay Kumar Singh was one of a group of men who gang-raped a 23-year-old woman on a bus in India's capital late at night in December seven years ago.

Her case and death -- 12 days later from extensive internal injuries -- sparked national protests and international horror, and became synonymous with India's high rates of sexual violence against women.

Filed through his lawyer, the now 31-year-old said in his review petition to the Supreme Court that the air quality in New Delhi was like a "gas chamber" and its water "full of poison".

"Everyone is aware of what is happening in Delhi-NCR (national capital region) with regard to air and water. Life is going to be short, then why death penalty?" the petition added.

Akshay is the final defendant out of four given the death sentence in the case to file a review petition before India's top court. It too was expected to be rejected. 

Media reports this week said that the men could be hanged before the end of the year, and possibly on December 16, the anniversary of the attack.

Some reports said that Tihar prison, where they are incarcerated, has held a dummy execution to test the gallows and that special ropes are being brought from elsewhere.

A Tihar prison official told AFP that they had no knowledge of any such preparations, however.

Every winter Delhi is shrouded for months in a toxic smog that experts say is shortening the lives of the megacity's 20 million inhabitants.

The pollution appeal comes shortly after another Indian woman was gang-raped and murdered last month, sparking protests and calls for reform of the country's notoriously slow legal system.