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Four men convicted of raping and murdering a woman in New Delhi had their death sentences upheld on Thursday for a crime that caused a huge public backlash against an entrenched culture of violence against women in India.

The victim, a trainee physiotherapist who was raped for an hour and tortured with an iron rod on a moving bus, became a symbol of the dangers women face in a country where a rape is reported on average every 21 minutes.

"The day the murderers of my daughter are hanged, we will feel we have got justice," the victim's mother said after the Delhi High Court confirmed the sentence of hanging handed down by a trial judge last September.

"We hope, even in other such cases, justice will be done in the same fashion," the mother said. Indian law bars the press from identifying rape victims.

Defence lawyers said they would appeal to the Supreme Court, with one denouncing Thursday's decision as politically motivated. India holds a general election in April and May.

Lawyers representing two of the convicts, told reporters after the ruling by a panel of two female judges, that the trial was not fair, adding that If the judgment had come after the elections, it would have been in favour of the defence.

The convicted individuals include a gym instructor, bus cleaner, fruit-seller and one unemployed man. They were sentenced to death for their part in the gang rape and killing of the 23-year-old woman in December 2012.

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