A Mumbai court Thursday found five people guilty of two gang-rape cases in July-August last year in the Shakti Mills Complex, officials said here.
The five were held guilty in the gang-rape of a woman photojournalist Aug 22 and a call centre employee July 31 last year. Both the crimes were committed in the same premises.
Principal Sessions Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi will pronounce the quantum of sentence in both the cases Friday.
Home Minister R.R. Patil, who was present in the sessions court hearing Thursday, hailed the verdict and called it as the 'Nirbhaya' case of Mumbai, referring to the December 2012 brutal gang-rape of a physiotherapy student in Delhi.
"The judgment has been delivered in a record time. Mumbai prides itself in being a city safe for women. This verdict will be a deterrent (to sex offenders)... We welcome the verdict," Patil told mediapersons after the ruling.
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said he would seek the maximum punishment for all three -- Vijay Jadhav, 19; Qasim Hafiz Sheikh alias Bengali, 21; Mohammed Salim Ansari, 28 -- who were found guilty in both cases.
Besides, a fourth accused, Siraj Khan, 21, was found guilty in the gang-rape of the photojournalist and Ashfaque Sheikh, 26, was found guilty in the gang-rape of the call centre employee.
At least one minor involved in both cases is being tried separately by a juvenile court.
Nikam said the trial of the two juveniles will begin now as the verdict in the case is out. He also said that the prosecution will seek the maximum sentence provided under the law tomorrow.
Maharashtra ATS chief Himanshu Roy, who had spearheaded the investigation as the crime branch chief, welcomed the verdict.
"I welcome the verdict, but in my personal opinion the age of the juvenile in such brutal crimes should be brought down to 16 as in one of the two cases the juvenile was the most brutal one," Roy told PTI.
Roy also said that the telephone operator case was the most difficult as the victim had approached the police after a month of the incident.
"It became difficult as the case was reported a month later. However, since the Mill was deserted we found our evidence intact. If the location would have been a frequented place then the case would have become worse," he added.
The first case pertains to the gangrape of a 22-year-old magazine photojournalist who had gone to the mill compound in Central Mumbai with a male colleague on an assignment on August 22, 2013.
Five men, (including a juvenile, whose case was separated), were charged with raping her there after assaulting her colleague. They are: Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali, Salim Ansari, Siraj Rehman and a minor.
The other case is of an 18-year-old telephone operator who was gangraped by five persons (including three accused in the first case) in the same premises on July 31, last year. The accused in this case are: Mohammed Ashfaq Sheikh, Kasim Bengali, Salim Ansari, and Vijay Jadhav.
Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali and Salim Ansari are common accused in both the two cases.
The prosecution examined 44 witnesses in the photojournalist's case and 31 in the other case. The defence examined three witnesses in the photojournalist's case and only one witness in the other case.