Accused pair to 'turn witnesses' for gang-rape trial

Two of the five men charged with murder of Indian student attempt to avoid death penalty

Delhi

Two of the men allegedly involved in the rape and murder of an Indian medical student have said they are ready to turn state's witnesses – apparently in an attempt to avoid the death penalty.

Four of five men charged with the murder and gang-rape of the 23-year-old were brought before a court in Delhi today, where two of them indicated their readiness to appear for the prosecution. According to the Press Trust of India, Pawan Gupta, 19, a fruit vendor, and Vinay Sharma, 20, a fitness trainer, refused to accept the services of legal aid counsel and instead expressed their willingness to act as witnesses.

Two other defendants, a 33-year-old bus driver Ram Singh and his brother Mukesh, 26, asked the court to provide a lawyer to defend them after the local lawyers' association refused to act on their behalf.

The four defendants, along with a fifth man, Akshay Singh, 24, a bus washer, are today due to be brought before a judge who will send the case to a fast-track court set up specially to deal with it. A sixth male is scheduled to be dealt with by a juvenile court because he claims he is only 17.

"All the accused persons were informed that they can seek legal aid in the case, if they have not engaged any counsel," Jyoti Kler, a magistrate, told a hearing to which the men were brought yesterday so their custody in jail could be extended. "Accused Pawan and Vinay have refused to take service of the legal aid counsel and have submitted that they want to become witnesses on behalf of the state."

The attack on the medical student and her male friend on 16 December, and her subsequent death in a hospital in Singapore, where she was sent for specialist treatment, has gripped India and sparked an unprecedented debate about the country's attitudes towards women and the frequency of sexual harassment and attacks. The government has been obliged to set up a commission to look into the issue and tighten punishments for rapists.

Tonight the father of the murdered student denied that he wanted his daughter's name to be made public after it was published by a British tabloid. Under Indian law, individuals who have been raped cannot be identified by the media unless they give their permission or, if they are dead, their family agrees.

The Sunday People newspaper, had reported that he said: "Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks. They will find strength from my daughter." However, the Hindustan Times said the father only wanted her identity to be made public if a tougher law for crimes against women was named after her.

The developments followed a decision by the police to file charges against an Indian television channel that broadcast an interview with the gang-rape victim's male companion, in which he severely criticised the police response to the attack.

In the interview with Zee News, the man, who was not named, condemned officers and the public for failing to come to the aid of himself and his friend after they were stripped naked and thrown from a moving bus.

It is claimed the police took up to 45 minutes to reach the scene and then fought over which unit had jurisdiction.

"They were just watching us. My friend was bleeding profusely. I was more concerned about her," the young man said. "But instead of taking us to a nearby hospital, [the police] took us to a hospital that was far away. The policemen didn't help us because my friend was bleeding profusely and they were probably worried about their clothes."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee