Young Indian rape suspect held alone for own safety, says innocent
By Frank Jack Daniel
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Behind a barbed wire-topped wall by a busy New Delhi highway a teenager sits alone in a locked room, accused of taking part in a gang rape that first sparked nationwide protests and now a debate over whether Indian law is too lenient on juveniles.
Police allege the youth and five men lured a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist and her male friend onto a bus where they repeatedly raped her and beat her with a metal bar before tossing the bleeding couple onto a road. The woman died of internal injuries two weeks later.
Reuters has learned that officials at a juvenile detention facility in Delhi have taken the unusual step of keeping the teenager isolated from other detainees for his own safety. They say the brutality of the attack angered the other inmates, some of whom have been convicted of murder.
Two officers from the team responsible for the youth's care have for the first time described in detail to Reuters the youth's life in the unit for violent young offenders since his arrest in connection with the December 16 rape.
The officers said the youth had proclaimed his innocence and blamed his co-accused.
"He says he has done nothing, the others have committed this crime," one of the officers said.
He has been assigned a defense lawyer under legal aid. His lawyer declined to comment on his client's guilt or innocence when approached by Reuters.
Indian authorities have not publicly disclosed any details about where the teenager is being held or the conditions in which he is being kept. While his co-accused have been seen entering closed-door pre-trial hearings, the youth has been kept out of the media spotlight since his arrest at a New Delhi bus station on December 21. Continued...