The authorities in India Thursday charged five suspects in the gruesome gang-rape and murder of a woman in the national capital last month.
The 23-year-old student died Dec. 29 due to multiple organ failure, two weeks after she was raped on a moving bus in Delhi Dec. 16.
The five men — bus driver Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh and their accomplices Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur — will be tried in a fast-track court. A sixth suspect — a minor — will be tried before the Juvenile Justice Board.
The suspects were charged with murder, gang-rape, attempt to murder, kidnapping, unnatural offences, dacoity or robbery by an armed gang, hurting in committing robbery, destruction of evidence, criminal conspiracy and common intention under the Indian Penal Code, local media reported.
Ram Singh, highlighted as instrumental in the crime, was accused of using an iron rod on the victim with the help of Thakur and the minor, IANS reported quoting the police.
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The chargesheet cites 30-40 witnesses, including doctors who treated the victim in Delhi and Singapore.
Ramadhar Singh, a man who was allegedly robbed by the six on the bus slightly before the gang-rape, would also testify as a witness, the local media reported.
The 33-page chargesheet with annexures running into several hundred pages was submitted before Metropolitan Magistrate Surya Malik Grover. But the case will be transferred to a specially launched fast-track court at Saket in New Delhi. Additional sessions judge Yogesh Khanna would preside over the fast-track court.
The prosecution has urged the court to keep the document in a sealed cover to protect the identity of the victim and asked for the proceedings to be held in-camera away from public glare.
The copies of the chargesheet, which were to be supplied to the accused, did not contain the name of the victim, but address her as ‘XYZ,’ the prosecution said.
The victim’s statement, recorded while she underwent treatment and an account from her male friend — a 28-year-old software engineer who was also beaten up during the attack — are expected to form the crucial parts of the evidence against the accused.
The incident, which shocked and outraged India, sparked massive protests across the nation and particularly in New Delhi.
The victim's father said he backed the calls for the accused to be executed if found guilty.
"The whole country is demanding that these monsters be hanged. I am with them," he told reporters at his home in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The Bar Association said none of its members was willing to defend the suspects, so the court is expected to appoint defense lawyers.
Public prosecutor Rajiv Mohan sought a day’s time to file an e-chargesheet, saying the documents to be annexed were bulky.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir has said that "a swift trial should not be at the cost of a fair trial” despite how the public felt about the case.