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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future