NEW DELHI: The judge in the trial of four men accused of the fatal gang-rape of a student on a New Delhi bus last December announced yesterday he would deliver his verdicts on September 10.
The trial began in a “fast-track” court in the capital in February with the prosecution laying out evidence against the suspects, including DNA, witness statements and dying testimony from the victim.
The case horrified the nation and brought simmering anger about endemic sex crimes to the boil, sparking street protests and a toughening of sentences for rapists.
Dismissing pleas for more time by defence lawyers, Judge Yogesh Khanna told them: “You’ve delayed this trial far enough. My judgement will come on the 10th.”
The first verdict came on Saturday in a juvenile court where a teenager, aged 17 at the time of the assault, was found guilty and sentenced to three years in a detention centre.
The four adult suspects could face the death penalty if convicted of the most serious charges against them which include murder, gang-rape and theft.
The 23-year-old victim was repeatedly raped and violated with an iron rod after being lured onto a private bus following a cinema trip with a male friend.
“I am grateful to your lordship for conducting this trial,” Dayan Krishnan, special public prosecutor, told the court yesterday. “I am not so grateful to the defence team, which took almost 130 days on this. In my view, a just and speedy trial should not take so long,” he added.
The four accused sat in the back row of the small courtroom, listening intently to proceedings. They have all pleaded not guilty and have accused the police of torturing them.
The men — Mukesh Singh, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma — range in age from 35 to 19 and were mostly residents of a Delhi slum.
A fifth defendant, the driver of the bus and alleged attack leader Ram Singh, was found dead in his jail cell in March in an apparent suicide.
The prosecution wrapped up its arguments at the end of last month, stating it had presented a “complete and comprehensive case” that proved “beyond reasonable doubt” that the accused were guilty.