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Delhi Gang Rape trial starts today
The trial of 5 of the 6 accused in the Delhi gang rape is set to start today, 5th February 2013. The gruesome case has gripped the nation and the world, highlighted the problems women face in the Indian capital city of Delhi and brought on the calls for better law and order in the city of New Delhi. These mass protests and political pressure lead to some changes in the law and a fast track court was established for this case. As of now,5 out of the 6 accused in the Delhi Gang Rape have pleaded not guilty in the charges framed by the police.
Of all the accused, the 6th accused named Raju has not been charged as according to his school certificate he is a minor. The court has refused the police appeals to ascertain his ‘real’ age by doing a bone test. He will face a separate trial and if convicted, can face a maximum of 3 years in a reformatory for minors and not prison. The other five, Ram Singh (the driver of the bus), his brother Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta – a fruit seller, Vinay Sharma – a gym instructor and employment seeker Askhay Thakur have all pleaded not guilty. MK Sharma, the lawyer of one of the accused said that the men were beaten by the police and coerced into admitting the crime.
The charge sheet of the five includes gang rape, murder, dacoity, criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and kidnapping. The lawyers of the accused are expected to present their case as “mistaken identity” and the evidence as “planted” to conspire against the accused men. The charge sheet is said to run into more than 1000 pages, however the case is expected to be swift. The pressure on the fast track court from political parties, media and the public to convict the accused as soon as possible is great and it is expected to announce the verdict within a month. There will be no jury and no media coverage of the trial.
The incident took place when the victim and her male friend boarded a charted bus in the night. The accused were all in the bus acting as normal passengers. Within minutes the 23 year old woman was then raped and physically assaulted by the 6 accused in the moving bus and thrown out of the bus with her friend. The victim died in Singapore hospital after 2 weeks where she was transferred by the Indian authorities to get a better treatment. However there are many who think that sending her to Singapore was a political move, to reduce the chances of mass anti-government and potentially- nation crippling protests had the death taken place within the country. The male victim had non-life threatening injuries and gave extensive interviews to the media post the woman’s death. Read more about the incident here.