NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The gang of men charged with the rape and murder of an Indian physiotherapy student deliberately tried to find a woman to rape and kill and ended the night with blood on their clothes, a police report seen by Reuters said.
Five men, along with a teenager who says he is under 18, gathered for dinner at a dwelling in a south Delhi slum on the evening of December 16 and there hatched the plot to find a target, according to the dossier given to court by the prosecution.
The accused “decided ahead of time” they would look for a woman and “intended to kill her”, the police report claims.
The file, which runs to more than 600 pages contains the prosecution’s evidence in the case, which it describes as including forensic evidence against the men, along with confessions, witness statements and medical reports.
However, defense lawyers assigned by the court on Thursday said the prosecution’s case is marred by lapses in the investigation, not least the long period during which their clients were without legal representation. The defense has not yet filed its reply to the prosecution’s dossier.
The court hearing the case took cognizance of the police document, known as a charge sheet, on Saturday. Under Indian law once a court takes cognizance of a charge sheet it becomes public record.
The gang boarded a bus that the alleged gang leader, Ram Singh, drove by day to ferry children to school and went out in search of a victim. They found the student accompanied by a male friend who were looking for transport home after watching the movie “Life of Pi” at a South Delhi shopping mall, according to the report submitted to the court.
Police arrested Singh the next day after tracing the bus using security camera footage from a hotel. He was still wearing a T-shirt stained with the victim’s blood and “on sustained interrogation” confessed and led the police to his accomplices, the police report said.
The other accused are Singh’s brother Mukesh, Akshay Kumar Singh, alias Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma, all of whom are expected to plead not guilty when the trial begins. Mukesh Singh claims he was tortured while in police custody, his lawyer said on Thursday.
A sixth member of the gang, a teenager, is being processed as a juvenile, has not so far been charged and will be tried separately. Police have said they are conducting bone tests to determine his age as they suspect he may be over 18 years old.
After being caught by police, Ram Singh produced two bloodied iron rods from the bus, which had been used to beat the victim and her friend, and were inserted into her body, causing massive organ damage, the report claims.
According to the police dossier, the accused turned the lights out and took turns driving the bus, while two men held the woman down and another raped her. She suffered bite marks on several parts of her body, but also fought back and managed to bite her attackers. Their injuries are part of the case against them, the police report said.
After removing part of the victim’s intestines and throwing both her and her companion from the moving vehicle, they then tried to drive the bus over her. But her companion pulled her away, the report said.
They were left “badly injured and bleeding” on a flyover in south Delhi and were found naked by a highway worker who gave the man a shirt and called the police.
The victim, whom Reuters has opted not to name because Indian law generally prohibits doing so, died in a Singapore hospital of infection and “multiple organ failure” two weeks after the crime.
After the attack, Ram Singh tried to wipe the bus clean with the victims’ clothes, then made a fire to burn the clothes and other incriminating evidence, the report alleges. Witnesses from the neighborhood he lived in came to the fire to warm themselves, the report said.
The dossier purports to rely on some 80 witnesses, along with DNA matches, mobile telephone tower records, video evidence, stolen goods belonging to the victims in possession of the accused, the bloodied clothes of the suspects, and the weapons used in the attack.
The prosecution will seek the death sentence for murder.
Editing by John Chalmers and Robert Birsel