The youngest of the six males accused of last December's gang rape of a 23-year-old female student in New Delhi has been sentenced to three years in a correctional home by the Juvenile Justice Board. This is the maximum punishment under India's juvenile law.

The eight months he has already spent in custody will be taken off his sentence.

"He has been convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to three years in a correctional home subject to review," Anil Sharma, the chief investigating officer in the case, said.

One of the accused was found dead in his prison cell this March. The remaining four are being tried in a "fast-track" court in New Delhi. If found guilty, they face the death penalty.

The case sparked mass outrage across India, forcing the government to introduce measures to improve the safety of women. However, since then, more cases of gang rape of young women have been reported, the most recent being that of a photojournalist in the financial capital, Mumbai.

The convicted youth, who was 17 when he committed the crime, had pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. He had allegedly ripped out the victim's intestines.

He was tried under India's juvenile law, sparking a fierce debate that eventually led to changes in India's sexual violence laws, many of which dated back to British Empire days. However, a government committee rejected pleas to lower the age for being tried as an adult to 16 from 18, a decision backed by India's Supreme Court.

The family of the rape victim reacted angrily to the verdict and called for the perpetrator to be hanged. They had wanted the teenager to be tried as an adult because he was the most brutal attacker.

"He should be hanged irrespective of whether he is a juvenile or not. He should be punished for what he did to my daughter," Asha Devi, the tearful mother of the victim, told the Hindustan Times.

She added: "There was no need for these proceedings. We have been fooled. I don't accept the judgement. What was the need for keeping us waiting for the whole day?"

The girl's father also demanded harsher punishment. "We want him hanged. A despicable game has been played on us. We will appeal."

The younger brother of the victim said he saw no fear, remorse or shame on the convict's face.

The victim, a physiotherapy student, was attacked when she boarded a bus on her way home from the cinema. The convicted youngster was a cleaner on the bus.

Apart from sexually abusing her, the perpetrators attacked her with an iron bar, inflicting grievous injuries that eventually proved fatal. She died in a Singapore hospital, where the government had airlifted her for treatment. Her male friend was also attacked.