Two rape accused offer to testify for state

By Andrew Buncombe

Four of five men charged with the murder and gang-rape of the 23-year-old were brought before a court in New Delhi on Sunday. Photo / AP
Four of five men charged with the murder and gang-rape of the 23-year-old were brought before a court in New Delhi on Sunday. Photo / AP

Two of the men allegedly involved in the rape and murder of an Indian medical student have said they are ready to turn state's witnesses, apparently in an attempt to avoid the death penalty.

Four of five men charged with the murder and gang-rape of the 23-year-old were brought before a court in New Delhi on Sunday, where two of them indicated their readiness to appear for the prosecution.

According to the Press Trust of India, Pawan Gupta, 19, a fruit vendor, and Vinay Sharma, 20, a fitness trainer, refused to accept the services of legal aid counsel and instead expressed their willingness to act as witnesses.

Two other defendants, 33-year-old bus driver Ram Singh and his brother Mukesh, 26, asked the court to provide a lawyer to defend them after the local lawyers' association refused to act on their behalf.

The four defendants, with a fifth man, Akshay Singh, 24, a bus washer, last night appeared before a judge who was to send the case to a fast-track court set up specially to deal with it.

A sixth male was scheduled to be dealt with by a juvenile court because he claims he is only 17.

Yesterday the father of the murdered student denied that he wanted his daughter's name to be made public after it was published by a British tabloid.

Under Indian law, individuals who have been raped cannot be identified by the media unless they give their permission or, if they are dead, their family agrees.

The Sunday People newspaper, had reported that he said: "Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks. They will find strength from my daughter."

However, the Hindustan Times said the father only wanted her identity to be made public if a tougher law for crimes against women was named after her.

-Independent

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