Defendant in India gang-rape trial changes testimony

Mukesh Singh says he was driving the bus and was unaware of the brutal attack, which shocked a nation

A defendant in the case of the gang rape and murder of a young Indian woman on a bus last December has changed his story, a US newspaper has reported.

Mukesh Singh, 22, had hitherto told police he wasn't present at the attack on an unnamed 23-year-old medical student in New Delhi.

But according to The Wall Street Journal, he has now said he was actually driving the bus, because his brother - who also stood accused until he died in March - was too drunk to drive.

Mr Singh says he was unaware of the brutal attack taking place while he drove, but was able to identify his co-defendants as passengers on the bus that night. They all deny having been there, and have offered various alibis.

The rape sent waves of protest across India, with the public angered by a perceived lack of action from authorities against sexual violence.

Doctors who treated the victim until her death two weeks after the ordeal said they had never seen injuries so severe from such an attack.

She and her male companion had been to see Life of Pi at the cinema, and mistakenly boarded a private bus thinking it was normal public transport.

Police said the men on the bus then gang-raped the woman and beat her and her companion with iron rods as the vehicle drove through the city for hours. It was later revealed the bus had driven through several police check-points. The male companion survived.

Four adult defendants face charges including gang rape, murder and kidnapping - charges which might get them the death penalty, if they are found guilty.

A fifth defendant, aged 17 at the time, is being tried in a juvenile court. The sixth, Mr Singh's 33-year-old brother Ram Singh, was found hanged in his cell in March. Prison bosses said an investigation suggested he had hanged himself, but his family have insisted he was murdered.

All defendants plead not guilty.

According to a transcript seen by the Journal, Mr Singh said: "I had not heard any cries since the driver's cabin was closed at that time." The bus had a separate compartment for the driver, but police said it has a window and is not soundproof.

He said his now deceased brother - who worked as a school bus driver - had called him on the night of the alleged attack to drive the men from the Munirka suburb to the slum where the men live, because he was too drunk to do so himself.

He said he cycled to Munirka, where he found his brother and the other four defendants drunk on the bus, and described where they were sitting.

According to the testimony, he said an argument started between the men and the victim's friend, whom they picked up at a stop around 9pm.

Someone "put off the lights inside the bus," Mr. Singh said, according to the transcript. "Thereafter I do not know what they have done."

A.P. Singh (no relation), a lawyer who represents two of the other accused, said: "His statement has messed up everything."

Speculating that the defendant might be seeking leniency from the prosecution, Mr Singh said: "One hundred per cent, he has been promised a lighter sentence. Something fishy is going on."

Mr Singh's lawyer denies this. A verdict is expected next month.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Tepper had a stunningly successful career as a songwriter
Arts and Entertainment
Len Blavatnik

Today in the Premier League, Everton face Manchester United, and Arsenal take on Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium. A victory for Jose Mourinho's side, and they could win the Premier League title as soon as Wednesday with a win over Leicester.

Arts and Entertainment
The original field in High Wycombe, which is used as the banner image on a number of websites belonging to local Tory associations
general election
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions