Lawyers cross-examine eyewitnesses in Delhi gang rape case

STORY: Defence counsel for two of the five accused in the barbaric Delhi gang rape case, which generated nationwide public outcry, A. P. Singh ensured speedy trial as the lawyers cross-examined the eyewitnesses.

Prosecutors alleged that the six accused, five men and one youth, attacked a trainee physiotherapist and her friend on a bus as they returned home from watching a movie on December 16.

The woman was repeatedly raped and tortured with a metal rod and the couple were severely beaten before being thrown on the road from the moving bus.

The woman died of internal injuries in a Singapore hospital two weeks later.

Speaking to the reporters after the hearing on Monday (February 18), Singh said that they have cross-examined the key eyewitnesses.

“We have cross examined those eye witnesses who had seen the bus, those who had seen the bus being washed as well as those who saw the burning of clothes, according to the story that has been put forward by the police,” said Singh.

In the past, during the hearing of the case, the friend, defense lawyers and some policemen moved from the courtroom to a courtyard where the bus on which police say the attack took place was parked.

Journalists saw some of them board the vehicle, which was white with tinted windows and orange curtains. Above the windshield was painted “Praise the Goddess” in Hindi.

The victim’s friend was not seen boarding the bus.

Defense lawyers said they would highlight what they say are discrepancies in the account given by the victim’s friend.

Singh also said that the rights of the defense should not be ignored.

“Everyday four to five eye-witnesses are cross-examined. We are trying our level best for a speedy trial. But this does not mean that we will ignore the rights of the defense,” he added.

The trial of the five men opened on Tuesday (February 05) with closed-door testimony from the woman’s friend who was also attacked, appearing in court in a wheelchair, still bearing the scars of injuries from his beating.

The 28-year-old software engineer, who may not be identified, is the prosecution’s star witness in a case that has triggered nationwide protests, an intense debate about rampant crime against women in India and tougher anti-rape laws.

The five accused are Vinay Sharma, a gym assistant, Ram Singh, the bus driver, his brother Mukesh Singh, bus cleaner Akshay Kumar Singh and fruit vendor Pawan Kumar.

They have pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and murder. A sixth accused is being tried separately as a juvenile.

The prosecution says articles stolen from the couple, including their cellphones, rings and debit cards were found in raids conducted on the homes of the accused. DNA evidence and bloodstained clothes also form part of their case.

The five men are being tried in a special fast-track court opposite the shopping mall where the victim and her friend went to watch the film “Life of Pi” before boarding the bus.