A New Delhi juvenile court on Saturday sentenced a minor to three years in jail after he was tried for homicidal rape, a case that last December shook India with indignation, the defendant's attorney said.

The announcement was greeted with protests by a group of people who were waiting outside the courthouse and who, like the victim's family, had asked that the minor be considered an adult, that he be sentenced to capital punishment and hanged.

The sentence was announced after several postponements requested by the victim's family, who wanted the minor - who is now age 18 but at the time of the rape was 17 - to be punished as an adult.

The age of the accused and the short sentence he was given sparked further rage about the deadly gang-rape of a 23-year-old college student eight months ago by a group of six young men on a bus in the Indian capital.

The student died 13 days afterwards in a Singapore hospital.

The case set off a wave of protests demanding greater protection for women, and an avalanche of petitions by different groups for the penal code to be modified in cases of rapes by minors.

But a committee created by the government to recommend changes to the law rejected the idea of lowering the age at which an offender can be tried as an adult from 18 to 16.

The sentence was announced as the trial continues against the other four men accused in the same case, all adults, and whose verdicts are expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

A fifth man implicated in the case, also an adult, committed suicide in jail, according to the official account.

Since the homicidal gang-rape in December, the Indian press has constantly reported rapes and cases of violence against women. EFE