Indian gang-rape suspects appear in court | Pakistan Today

Indian gang-rape suspects appear in court

Five men accused of the gang rape and murder of an Indian student have appeared in court to hear charges against them, but the trial magistrate ruled the media will not be allowed to cover pre-trial hearings.
Namrita Aggarwal, the magistrate, upheld the prosecutor’s request that the media be barred from Monday’s proceedings, according to Rajan Bhagat, a police spokesman. The defendants appeared in a Delhi court with two of them offering evidence possibly in return for a lighter sentence, Rajiv Mohan, a public prosecutor, told the Reuters news agency.
Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan, reporting from Delhi, said: “The prosecutors say they have a very, very tight case against them. People are watching closely to see what happens to those accused.” The five, including a 17-year-old who will go to a juvenile court, are accused of raping the 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus in New Delhi, inflicting fatal injuries on her. She died two weeks later on December 28 in a Singapore hospital.
Forensic evidence: Television images showed the blue police van believed to be transporting the suspects from Tihar jail as it arrived at the court gate prior to the hearing.
The court appearance comes days after police said they discovered forensic evidence to link them to the killing.
The men – who face charges of kidnap, robbery and conspiracy besides murder – could face the death penalty if convicted of the attack on December 16 that sparked protests in India and soul-searching about levels of violence against women. The defendants have been named as Ram Singh, Mukesh Singh, Vijay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta. The government, sensitive to criticism that a sluggish justice system often compounds the agony of victims, has pledged to fast-track the case against the defendants. They all live in Delhi.
Police have pledged “maximum security” during the hearing at the magistrates’ court amid fears for the defendants’ safety. A man was arrested last week as he allegedly tried to plant a crude bomb near the home of one of the men.
As prosecution of the suspects got under way, legal experts called for an overhaul of the country’s judicial system. Experts also said the court in Delhi’s Saket district was likely to transfer the case to a higher court during Monday’s hearing.
‘Incompetent’ force: Madhu Kishwar, an academic and founder of the Manushi human rights organisation, told Al Jazeera “police and judicial reforms” were needed to deal with sexual violence against women.
She said “tampering with this or that clause in rape law will achieve next to nothing if the police force remains as incompetent and as corrupt as it is”.
The student, whose death united the nation in mourning, remains unidentified as Indian rape law forbids naming of victims of sexual violence.
She had spent the evening at a cinema with her boyfriend on the night of the attack. After failing to flag down an autorickshaw, she and the boyfriend were tricked to board a schoolbus they thought would take them home. The attack began once they got on the bus, with assailants taking turns raping the student. The attackers are said to have used an iron bar to sexually assault the student, who was thrown off the moving bus along with her companion after the rape.



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One Comment;

  1. nivedita said:

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