World | India

Lawyer alleges police brutality in Delhi gang-rape case

'Five adult suspects aged from 19 to 35 had been forced to confess since their arrest shortly after the December 16 crime'

  • AFP
  • Published: 09:14 January 10, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AP
  • Manohar Lal Sharma, lawyer for one of the accused, speaks to journalists outside the Saket district court complex.
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New Delhi: A lawyer for the defendants in the New Delhi gang-rape case accused police on Thursday of beating confessions out of them as they appeared for their second court appearance.

Speaking ahead of a hearing in front of a city magistrate, Supreme Court lawyer M.L. Sharma told AFP that the five adult suspects aged from 19 to 35 had been forced to confess since their arrest shortly after the December 16 crime.

He also suggested his defence would cast doubt on the character of the 23-year-old victim, a physiotherapy student who had been to watch a film with her boyfriend when they were lured onto a bus and repeatedly assaulted.

"All the accused have been badly beaten by the police and they have used the third degree to extract the statement that suits the evidence they have collected," M.L. Sharma told AFP outside Saket District Court in southern Delhi. "My clients have been forced to confess to crimes that they did not commit."

A spokesman for Delhi police refused to comment on the allegations, though officers have said they have strong forensic evidence against the accused and testimony from the boyfriend.

Sharma is defending two of the adult defendants, who are expected to plead not guilty, while two other Supreme Court advocates were confirmed as counsels for the other three men during the hearing on Thursday.

The pleas of the other three men have not been decided yet, their lawyers V.K. Anand and A.P. Singh told reporters outside the court. A sixth accused, who is 17, will be tried in a juvenile court.

A police bus believed to be transporting the five suspects, mostly residents of New Delhi slums who are being held in top-security Tihar jail, was seen arriving at the court before their scheduled appearance at about 2:30pm (0900 GMT).

Lawyers said afterwards that the next hearing had been set for January 14.

After their first appearance on Monday was marred by chaotic scenes, the presiding magistrate Namrita Aggarwal ordered the court to be cleared and imposed restrictions limiting media reporting of the case.

A court officer had said earlier Monday that the case would be transferred to a fast-track trial court during Thursday's hearing, but this had not happened, lawyers said outside the court room.

If the men are convicted, they could face the death penalty which is reserved for "the rarest of rare" cases in India.

Police say the group lured the woman and her boyfriend onto the private bus in New Delhi when they were trying to return home from the cinema.

They then took it in turns to rape the woman and violate her with an iron bar, causing fatal internal injuries.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Sharma was quoted as saying the male companion of the murdered 23-year-old was "wholly responsible" for the incident because 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 newswire. 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 over the levels of violence against women.

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

"Society cannot any longer turn a blind eye to these sorts of incidences which are happening every day," he told Britain's ITV network.

Gang-rape accused due back in court Thursday

Early report: 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 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 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 change then these horrible things won't stop. The public have to wake up now."

Comments (43)

  1. Added 15:56 January 11, 2013

    Calm down friends, I have read in an article that if no advocates turned for the suspects there is a possibility of even letting them free. All these are part of the trial procedures. This too was the same happened during Kasab trial.

    Rajeev, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 12:23 January 11, 2013

    i can't understand what he means by saying that its their mistake to be on the road at night ?? so, is it justifiable, to rape n abuse , then??

    shibila, ajman, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 11:37 January 11, 2013

    Devil's Advocate I used to think india is geting bigger and better day by day......but alas it seems to still live in stone age......That poor girl deserve justice.....This is very very sad......

    Asif, Hyderabad, Pakistan

  4. Added 09:14 January 11, 2013

    Devils advocate

    eby, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 18:30 January 10, 2013

    i agree with you Anonymous

    singh, mumbai, India

  6. Added 17:48 January 10, 2013

    I am amazed by the comments of the lawyer. Dear Mr. Lawyer, your comments show the world the level of education you have. If you read any news paper in the world, you will definitely find atleast one case indecency towards females, women and children. Are you saying that those children or women are not respectful? Well, with these comments of yours, you definitely have lost respect, if you had any earlier to this. Please take care of yourself and make sure to stay away from underworld dons because you have lost your respect as well. Thank you.

    Shiraz, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 17:10 January 10, 2013

    Today I am truly ashamed of being a citizen of India. I am running short of words to describe this disgusting lawyer. It makes me sick to think that people like him exist in the world.

    m, abu dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 17:07 January 10, 2013

    Such a shame.

    Nazia, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 16:59 January 10, 2013

    I think Sharma should be punished as well. Dont know where is humanity gone. Why people think they have the right to rape, murder people walking along the street. Who has given them the permission to do so and if they are doing it then why the hell is the government sleeping.

    aly, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 16:41 January 10, 2013

    For the sake of popularity Mr. Sharma has forget that this would happen to your sister, mother, daughter or wife so please why dont you keep away

    Arshad Ali, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  11. View more comments

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