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Tuesday, December 22, 2015, 22:22

India to lower age for trying youth

By Associated Press

India to lower age for trying youth
Members of Indian students organization ABVP shout slogans as they protest the release of a juvenile convicted in the fatal 2012 gang rape that shook the country in New Delhi, India, Dec 20, 2015. (AP Photo /Tsering Topgyal)

NEW DELHI — Indian lawmakers voted Tuesday to lower to 16 from 18 the age at which a person can be tried as an adult for heinous crimes following anger over the release of one of the attackers in a fatal 2012 gang rape.

The man was short of his 18th birthday when he and five other men brutally raped a 23-year-old woman on a bus in the heart of the Indian capital. She later died in a hospital.

The young man served the maximum sentence of three years in a reform home and was released Sunday. Four men convicted of rape and murder were sentenced to death and are appealing their sentences in India's top court. A fifth man died in prison.

Tuesday's vote in the Rajya Sabha, or upper house of Parliament, followed a vote in May in the more powerful lower house, Lok Sabha. The amended law needs to be signed by India's president before it becomes a law.

The outrage over the Delhi attack prompted quick action on legislation doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalizing voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women.

It also started a heated debate about whether minors who commit especially brutal crimes should be tried as adults.

The amended bill says defendants between 16 and 18 years of age can be tried as adults for all crimes carrying possible penalties of more than seven years in prison. These include murder, rape, kidnapping and acid attacks.

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