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5 men face long list of charges in Delhi
Publication Date : 04-01-2013
The sixth accused, a minor, will be dealt with separately
Five men accused of the rape and murder of a young physiotherapy student that outraged India have been charged with a list of crimes, in a quick start to one of the most anticipated trials in the country's history.
"We are filing charges against five of the accused," said public prosecutor Rajiv Mohan yesterday evening in a Delhi courtroom, where chaotic scenes had erupted earlier after police prevented journalists and lawyers from entering to cover the proceedings.
The prosecutor brought numerous charges against Ram Singh, 33, his brother Mukesh, 26, and their accomplices Pawan Gupta, 19, Vinay Sharma, 20, and Akshay Thakur, 28. They include murder, gang rape, attempted murder, robbery, unnatural offences, destruction of evidence, criminal conspiracy and dacoity - a term for "banditry" in India.
A sixth male arrested in connection with the vicious assault is a minor. He was not named in the charge sheet, and court proceedings against him are to be carried out by the Juvenile Justice Board.
Delhi police are pressing for a trial that bars the media and public, and decided not to bring the five accused to court yesterday because of fears for their safety.
If found guilty and convicted, the five men could face the death penalty, which in India is reserved for the most brutal of crimes, characterised in the judicial system here as the "rarest of rare".
The juvenile, who according to the police lured the woman and her male friend into the bus and who was also involved in the gang rape, faces a maximum of three years in prison. That does not sit well with the victim's father, who has said he does not think the minor should be let off so lightly.
The charge sheet goes into horrific detail about how the 23-year-old student, who was with a male companion at the time, was gang-raped and beaten on the bus before being stripped and thrown out onto the street.
The public prosecutor also asked the court, which is in a complex in Saket, an upmarket south Delhi locality, that the original documents - which include paperwork from Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital, where the victim died on Saturday - be kept sealed to protect her identity.
"The basic purpose is that the victim's identity shouldn't be revealed," the prosecutor told the court. The next hearing is set for tomorrow.
Massive protests have galvanised the government into action. A series of measures have already been put in place, from a fast-track court, to police sensitivity training on how to deal with rape cases. It is also taking a new look at laws related to crimes against women.
Yesterday, the Home Ministry ordered the appointment of two women sub-inspectors and seven women constables in every police station in Delhi.
In Singapore, the Association of Women for Action and Research advocacy group, wrote an open letter to India's Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, calling for urgent and decisive action to tackle the problem of violence against women in India.
"We add our voice to the many calling for urgent and decisive action by your government," the group said in the letter.