Indian rape accused says police tortured him
By Suchitra Mohanty Posted 2013/01/10 at 6:48 am EST
NEW DELHI, Jan. 10, 2013 (Reuters) — One of the five men charged with the gang rape and murder of an Indian student said police tortured him in custody and he and at least three of his co-defendants say they are innocent, lawyers said on Thursday.... One of the men, Mukesh Singh, the brother of a bus driver who police say was the leader of the gang, will base his defense on police brutality, his lawyer said.
"Mukesh was illegally tortured in the custody of the police," said the lawyer, Manohar Lal Sharma. The five face charges of murder, gang rape and abduction, prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty. A sixth suspect is being investigated separately to determine if he is below the age of 18, as he says he is.
The case has shone a light on a widespread problem of violence against women but also the failure of the criminal justice system to bring the guilty to justice in a country where official statistics show a rape is reported every 20 minutes.
The bus driver and alleged gang leader Ram Singh said he was innocent during a two-hour meeting with his lawyer, V.K. Anand, in Delhi's Tihar jail, the lawyer said. Two other accused, gym assistant Vinay Sharma and bus cleaner Akshay Kumar Singh, say they were falsely implicated, said their lawyer, A.P. Singh. "I will ... prove their innocence," the lawyer said after the hearing....
GROUNDS FOR APPEAL?
For days after their arrest, soon after the December 16 assault on the woman and a male companion, none of the men had a lawyer. Most members of the judiciary refused to represent them because of the outrage over the attack.
Police conducted extensive interrogations of the men in the absence of any lawyer and they say they have recorded confessions. The hearings, which are closed to the media, are taking place in a court across the street from a cinema where the victim watched a movie before boarding the bus with a friend who was also severely beaten.
Prosecutors say they have a large file of evidence, including statements and DNA samples taken from blood-stained clothing recovered by police. But legal experts had said the earlier lack of representation for the five suspects could give grounds for appeal if they were found guilty. Convictions in similar cases have often been overturned years later....
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