Indian rape accused says police tortured him: lawyer

Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:21am EST
 

By Suchitra Mohanty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - One of five men charged with the gang rape and murder of an Indian student said police tortured him in custody and he and at least three of his co-defendants say they are innocent, lawyers said on Thursday.

The five accused arrived in court for a closed hearing with their faces covered by scarves, and accompanied for the first time by defense lawyers.

The 23-year-old physiotherapy student died on December 29, two weeks after being raped on a moving bus in New Delhi, then thrown bleeding onto the street along with a male friend who was also beaten. Nationwide protests followed against a perceived failure by authorities to stop violence against women.

One of the accused, Mukesh Singh, the brother of a bus driver who police say was the leader of the gang, will base his defense on police brutality, his lawyer said.

"Mukesh was illegally tortured in the custody of the police," said the lawyer, Manohar Lal Sharma.

Sharma said police had sexually assaulted his client with a stick and humiliated him. "They urinated in his mouth, they did all kinds of things to him. He is facing the same torture now from the jail inmates," he said.

A spokesman for New Delhi police was not available for comment.

The five face various charges including murder, gang rape and abduction and prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty. A sixth suspect is being investigated separately to determine if he is below the age of 18, as he says he is.   Continued...

 
Manohar Lal Sharma (C), lawyer of one of the accused Mukesh Singh, speaks with the media outside a district court in New Delhi January 10, 2013. One of the five men charged with the gang rape and murder of an Indian student said police tortured him in custody and he and at least three of his co-defendants say they are innocent, lawyers said on Thursday. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi