Delhi gang-rape trial: Male companion of woman killed in attack arrives in court to give evidence

 

Pushed in a wheelchair and his leg wrapped in a blue bandage, the male friend of the Indian student who was gang-raped and left for dead went to court to confront the five men charged with her murder and to testify against them.

Awindra Pandey, the 28-year-old companion of the physiotherapy student, was wheeled into the court in south Delhi by his father. Mr Pandey, an IT professional declined to speak to the media but his father told the AFP: “My son will go to any lengths to ensure that the guilty are punished. He will cooperate and is prepared to answer any questions posed by the defence.”

Mr Pandey, who suffered serious injuries as he tried to protect the young woman who was repeatedly raped and assaulted, was the first of up to 80 witnesses expected to reveal what they heard or saw on December 16 last year when the couple were attacked after leaving the cinema and boarding a bus. The testimony of the young woman, who spoke with police before she died two weeks after the attack, will also comprise part of the prosecution’s case.

The media has been banned from attending the hearing, taking place just a few hundred metres from the cinema complex where the pair had watched the Life of Pi film before boarding the bus they had believed would drop them home. But courtroom 305 is a modestly sized room and it would have been difficult for Mr Pandey not to have seen the five accused, who were taken into the court by police with their faces covered.

After the lunch interval, Mr Pandey was taken to the car-park of the court where he was asked to identify the white bus on which the attack is said to have taken place. Accompanied by police, the lawyers of the five accused and a trailing crowd of reporters, Mr Pandey spent around 10 minutes looking at the vehicle, which bore the name and the phone number of the owner, Dinesh Yadav.

The 23-year-old medical student died in a Singapore hospital on December 29 from massive internal injuries she sustained during the two hour assault aboard a bus a fortnight earlier. The case triggered an outcry across the country and sparked a rare examination of the treatment of women.

Five men have been accused of rape and murder. They have all denied the allegations. A sixth male accused, who is aged 17, is being dealt with by a juvenile court.

Mr Pandey, a software specialist, was the first prosecution witness at the special fast track court in Saket, one of half-a-dozen such tribunals that were established in the aftermath of the attack. In addition to the ban on the media, lawyers for the accused have been told not to speak to reporters.

In the aftermath of the attack, the Indian authorities vowed to do more to protect women from sexual assaults and established a panel to take recommendations from the public. The panel recommended tougher laws, women judges to hear cases and better training of police.

It said the government should not necessarily introduce the death penalty for rape as they believed rapists might be more included to kill their victims to prevent them giving evidence. The panel also said soldiers who carry out rapes should not be protected from prosecution as they currently are.

So far, the government has opted to introduce some of the measures through a special ordinance. It has refused to include marital rape and has declined to dilute the measures of the so-called ‘special powers act’ that relates to soldiers on duty. Women’s groups have widely condemned the measures as not doing enough.

Meanwhile, the father of the student who was killed, repeated his request that his daughter’s name be made public. Under Indian law, it is illegal to identify a rape victim, even after their death, without the authorisation of the family.

At a press conference organised by the main political opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the father also repeated his view that all six accused should dace the death penalty.

“We are hurt when she is called a gang-rape victim. She is the daughter of the nation,” said the woman’s father, according to the Press Trust of India. “We want her name to be known to the people. She is really a braveheart. She awoke the consciousness of the nation.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'