An Indian juvenile court announced Thursday that it is deferring its verdict in the case of an 18-year-old accused of participating in the fatal gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus in December.
It is expected to be handed down on July 25.
The juvenile (he was 17 when he allegedly participated in the crime) faces up to three years in a reform facility if convicted, the BBC reported
. The case has triggered a firestorm of debate in India about lowering from 18 to 16 the cutoff for trying someone as an adult.
The youth was working as a driver’s helper on a private Delhi bus on Dec. 16, 2012, when he and his boss picked up four men at a bus stop. All six were drinking on the bus, which stopped in South Delhi to pick up a 23- year-old medical student named Nirbhaya and a male friend.
Once the pair boarded the bus, they were allegedly attacked by the six. The couple were beaten and Nirbhaya was raped, while also suffering massive internal injuries. After initially being treated in Delhi hospitals, Nirbhaya was flown to Singapore where she died Dec. 29.
In March, the bus driver committed suicide while in jail awaiting trial. The other four suspects, all adults, face the death penalty if convicted in their trial.
In the aftermath of the crime, police claimed the juvenile was the most violent of the six perpetrators, the New York Times reported
. The assertion has been strongly denied by the defendant, who says he is innocent.
The youth left his village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and came to Delhi at age 11, performing menial tasks at the lowest rungs of the city’s labor force.
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