By Karen Diep
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
NEW DELHI, India – Today, five men pleaded not guilty to the rape and murder of a trainee physiotherapist in Delhi last December.
With a sixth suspect tried in juvenile court, the of age men, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Kumar, Ram, and Mukesh Singh, signed statements proclaiming their innocence after being formally charged in a fast-track court.
The accused men allegedly attacked the 23-year-old woman after boarding a bus with a male friend. According to AlJazeera, the men beat both of them, raped the woman, and tried to run her over with the vehicle after the attack.
As a result of the attack, the woman suffered excessive internal injuries and died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital. Prior to being transported to Singapore, the woman underwent three intensive surgeries and cardiac arrest.
The defense’s lawyers, in response to these allegations, claimed that the New Delhi police tortured the men into erroneous confessions.
Nonetheless, the violent attack sparked a national debate over India’s sex crime laws and the treatment of women in India.
Because there is substantial evidence, including DNA and phone records, prosecutors anticipate seeking the death penalty for the accused men. Moreover, they expect calling three witnesses at the beginning of trial.
On Wednesday, hundreds of protesters marched in New Delhi demanding more rights and security for women. According to AlJazeera, the “Women Dignity March” concluded at Rajghat, the tallest memorial of Mahatma Gandhi. On the same day, Junior Education Minister Shashi Tharoor advocated that the proposed new anti-rape law be named after the dead student.
Moreover, on Friday, India’s cabinet approved a majority of the commission’s recommendations on sex crime laws. Appointed to review India’s sex crime laws, the commission is led by ex-chief justice JS Vermam, who issued a report on January 23, 2013.
The court will begin administering evidential hearings this upcoming Tuesday.
For more information, please see:
Aljazeera – India rapists ‘tried to run over victim’ – 02 February 2013
BBC News – Delhi rape case: Five accused plead not guilty – 02 February 2013
The Guardian – India gang rape accused plead not guilty in fast-track court – 02 February 2013
The Voice – 5 Men Plead Not Guilty in India Rape Case – 02 February 2013