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Delhi gang-rape case to be fast-tracked


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Indian police personnel stand guard outside the district court Saket in New Delhi — Photo by AFP

NEW DELHI: The case against five Indian men charged with the gang-rape and murder of a student is set to be moved to a fast-track court on Thursday after a lawyer said three of the accused would deny the charges.

The five are all due to make their second appearance before a district court in New Delhi after their first appearance on Monday was marred by chaotic scenes which led the presiding magistrate to order the court to be cleared.

A senior court officer said on Monday that the case would be transferred to a fast-track trial court during Thursday's hearing which will take place behind closed doors, as is standard here in rape cases.

Three of the accused will be defended by the lawyer M.L. Sharma who has said his clients would plead not guilty when the case reaches the fast-track court.

The other two defendants have yet to get themselves lawyer while a sixth accused, who is 17, is to be tried in a juvenile court.

According to police, the group lured the 23-year-old woman and a male companion onto the bus in New Delhi after they had spent the evening at the cinema and were trying to go home.

They then took it in turns to rape the woman and violate her with an iron bar as well as assault her partner before throwing them off the bus.

Speaking to AFP on Thursday, Sharma said he would prove that his clients were not responsible for the attack on December 16 and he denied having tried to blame the victim.

In an interview to Bloomberg, Sharma was quoted as saying the male companion of the murdered 23-year-old was “wholly responsible” for the incident as the unmarried couple should not have been on the streets at night.

“Until today I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady,” he told the financial news wire.

“Even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect.” However Sharma told AFP that he had not been trying to smear the victim.

“I did speak to Bloomberg but did not say anything about the victim. I only told them that women are respected in India, they are mothers, sisters, friends but tell me which country respects a prostitute.”

Asked if that meant that he regarded the victim as a prostitute, Sharma replied: “No, not at all but I have to protect my clients and prove that they did not commit this heinous crime.”

The victim died in a Singapore hospital, 13 days after the attack which triggered mass protests across India and soul-searching over the levels of violence against women.

The father of the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said in a television interview that he was proud of his daughter and believed her death had served as a badly-needed wake of call.

“She has brought an awakening to society. Society cannot any longer turn a blind eye to these sorts of incidences which are happening every day,” he told Britain's ITV network.

“We have to change ourselves. If there are no changes then these horrible things won't stop. The public have to wake up now.”

Comments (4) Closed

ummemuhammed Jan 10, 2013 06:32am
"In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful" Asalamo Alykum, This guy Sharma is SICK. A lawyer's job is not just to defend his clients, but he should have the right clients. No lawyer should have agreed to defend those animals. He is calling her a prostitute just to save his clients. Ugh... But, Mr. Sharma, even if she was a prostitute, she did not deserve this from a group of loafers themselves. Wsalam.
Niraj Jan 10, 2013 07:00am
Ditto......covered by Times of India.
Werner Mayerhofer Jan 10, 2013 08:45am
Mr Sharma, even prostitutes are human beings and NOBODY has the right to treat a human being in a way the victim in this case has been treated - "respectable" or not !!
Mansoor Sajid Jan 10, 2013 09:07am
Hang the defence lawyer as well.