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Gangrape accused plead not guilty
By Resmi Sivaram/Agencies February 03, 2013
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NEW DELHI: Trial of the five accused in the gangrape and murder of a para medical student will begin on Tuesday with a fast track court framing the charges on Saturday.

The 23-year-old woman was brutally assaulted and raped by six persons, one of them a minor, on board a bus in south Delhi on Dec.16. She was admitted to a hospital with serious injuries and then taken to Singapore where she died on Dec.30.

The incident had stirred the national conscience with hundreds of thousands of people pouring out into the streets in protest for several days forcing the government to take steps including setting up of fast track courts for trial of offences against women as well as draft new provisions in the law. Proceedings at the fast track court were being held in camera with access denied to the media and to all others not connected with the case.

AP Singh, a lawyer representing two of the accused, told reporters outside the court that the accused had pleaded not guilty when Justice Yogendra Khanna read out the charges framed under 13 sections of the Indian penal code.

“The judge read out the charges and all five accused have pleaded not guilty,” AP Singh, a lawyer for two of the accused, told reporters outside the court.

“They (the accused) submitted to the judge that they were innocent and all allegations by the police are false and fabricated. They walked out of the court soon after,” Singh said.

“The trial process will begin on Tuesday with the recording of evidence, when the prosecution will call three witnesses to depose in court,” Singh said, adding the witnesses saw the victim lying by the roadside after the attack.

The five accused are Ram Singh, driver of the bus, his brother Mukesh and their friends Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur.

The sixth accused, declared a minor by the Juvenile Justice Board, will go on trial at a juvenile court.

The victim and her male companion, who also sustained injuries, waiting for a bus at 9.30pm were lured into the bus, taken by its driver for a joyride with his companions on off duty hours, saying that they would be taken to their destination, Dwarka, for Rs10 each.

However, soon afterwards, they misbehaved with the girl and when the boy objected, beat him up with iron rods.

They used it on the girl too before pushing them out after the rape, robbing them of their money, mobile phones and even clothes.

The union cabinet on Friday approved an ordinance for enhanced punishment in cases of crimes against women, including sexual assault, acid attacks, voyeurism and trafficking, as suggested by the Justice JS Verma Committee.

The government had recommended to President Pranab Mukherjee that an ordinance be issued. Victim’s family welcomed a court’s decision for accepting 13 charges by Delhi Police against the five accused on Saturday.

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