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Lawyer For One Of The India Gang Rape Suspects Says Men Tortured By Police And Forced To Confess
January 10, 2013
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A lawyer for one of the suspects in the India gang rape case spoke out today, accusing police of torturing the men.

Manohar Lal Sharma said the five suspects are "innocent" and have been coerced into admitting the crime.

"All these people have been tortured badly. It's under pressure that they have made statements in court," Sharam said.

"Evidence has been manipulated to calm the anger among people."

Five men are charged with the abduction, rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman who was attacked on a bus - along with her male friend - as it drove through Delhi on a joy ride.

A sixth suspect, who is thought to be 17, will be tried separately in a youth court if it's confirmed he's a minor.

The woman died two weeks after the attack in a hospital in Singapore, sparking anger across India with protesters calling for tough new laws to protect women.

They say police and the justice system do almost nothing to stop this kind of violence and abuse, often blaming the victim and refusing to file charges.

Sharma said his client - 22-year-old Mukesh Singh - was tortured for 10 days, was forced to confess and would plead not guilty.

"He was coerced into admission," Sharma said outside the court. "He's unable to speak now.

He said the men were picked up because police needed to make arrests. And he said authorities are under so much pressure, they'll convict the suspects no matter what.

"What happened to this woman was so heinous, so horrible," Sharma said, adding that, "the police will manipulate the facts."

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Manohar Lal Sharma, lawyer for one of the accused, speaks to journalists outside court

Delhi police say they won't comment on Sharma's allegations, for legal reasons.

Prosecutors say they have plenty of forensic evidence, including a DNA test that shows the victim's blood matched blood stains on the clothes of all the accused.

At one point, Sharma suggested the women's friend was responsible. "The boyfriend betrayed her" he said. "The boyfriend is responsible for the whole thing."

Later in the day, he said that "was only my opinion."

Yesterday, Sharma said the victims shouldn't have been riding public transit at night and are to blame.

"Until today, I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady," he told Bloomberg in an interview. "Even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect."

Today, Sharma said police have beaten the men (which is common in India), and put other prisoners into the suspects' cells to threaten them with knives.

"You can't believe the reality of Indian prisons," he said - adding that his client is constantly "sobbing like a child and saying 'Get me out of here, sir."

Prison authorities told the BBC the suspects are being held in different parts of the jail "and their safety is guaranteed".

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A police van believed to be carrying the suspects arrives at a Delhi court

Today in court, all five suspects had defence lawyers appointed to represent them, although they can change lawyers if they want.

The hearing was then put off until Monday because some of the official paperwork wasn't legible.

The five men will enter pleas once a formal trial begins. At least one other suspect plans to plead not guilty, according to his lawyer. It's unclear what the other three will do.

If convicted, all five face the death penalty. If the 6th suspect is tried in juvenile court, the maximum sentence would be three years in a reform facility.

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