NEW DELHI -An Indian court on Friday sentenced to death three men who raped a photojournalist inside an abandoned textile mill last year in Mumbai.
A fourth defendant was sentenced to life in prison, prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said. He said he asked for the death sentences under a strict antirape law introduced following public outrage over a fatal gang rape in New Delhi in 2012.
"This is the first case in India in which the death penalty has been given to convicts while the victim is alive," Nikam said.
The three men were also found guilty last month of raping a call-center operator at the same abandoned mill in July 2013, a month before the attack on the photojournalist.
Nikam described the three as habitual offenders.
Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said the offense was diabolical in nature and the punishment would send a strong message to Indian society.
India increased penalties for sex crimes and began to move rape trials more quickly through its notoriously slow justice system after a 23-year-old medical student died after being gang-raped on a moving bus in the capital in December 2012. Four men were sentenced to death in the New Delhi case.
Also Friday, 24 men were sentenced to prison for raping a 16-year-old girl who was abducted in Kerala state in 1996. A court had acquitted all but one defendant in 2005, but India's top court ordered a retrial last year.
One man was sentenced to life in prison, and 23 others were sentenced to seven to 11 years, prosecutor Anella George said.
The victim was abducted and raped in homes, hotels, cars and buses over one and a half months. Those convicted in the town of Ernakulam included a retired professor, lawyers, businessmen and government officials.