Indian gang-rape suspects appear in court
The five men accused of gang-raping a 23-year-old student in Delhi, India arrive in court today facing charges of abduction, gang-rape and murder following the victim’s death in hospital days after the attack.
In what has been considered a landmark court case for India and the judicial system, the suspects, who have appeared in court in the district of Saket, face the prospect of the death sentence if successfully convicted.
The six men, five of whom have been named in the Press as Ram Singh, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur (the sixth man remains unnamed due to his age), arrived at court in a blue police van to be met with a flurry of lawyers, protestors and journalists. While two of the suspects are said to have agreed to give evidence against the others in return for a more lenient sentence, Divya Gopalan of Aljazeera has spoken to prosecutors who are reported to have seemingly irrefutable forensic evidence against all of the accused.
Making headlines across the world, this particular case has highlighted the apparent flaws in the Indian judicial system. Facing worldwide criticism following the accusations from the victim’s father that police had initially been reluctant to pursue the case, the Indian government has faced mounting pressure to securing convictions in cases of violence against women.
In the light of worldwide scrutiny and the urging of UN Secretary General to take action, the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has made a concerted effort to meet the victim’s family whilst the Indian government has promised that the case will be fast-tracked. Indeed, reports from the Saket Court for the time being suggested that the case will be transferred to a higher court following this primary appearance.
The high-profile nature of this case, and the worldwide outrage it has elicited, places a heavy burden on the Indian government and its judicial system to appropriate justice and improve the speed of convictions. At the moment, India is seemingly answering calls for improvements; yet, only time will tell.