x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Indian gang-rape accused 'critical' after attack by fellow inmates

One of the five men accused in the rape and murder of a student in a critical condition after being attacked in prison by other inmates. Suryatapa Bhattacharya reports

NEW DELHI // One of the five men accused in the rape and murder of a student was in critical condition yesterday after being attacked in prison by other inmates.

Vinay Sharma, 20, was taken to a state-run hospital in New Delhi on Tuesday with chest injuries after he started vomiting blood, according to his lawyer, AP Singh.

"He has a high fever. There is blood mixed in his vomit and he has complained of chest pains," Mr Singh said. "He is in a critical condition."

Mr Singh said his client was beaten on May 2 at the maximum-security Tihar jail in Delhi and also accused the jail authorities of "adding poison to Vinay Sharma's food to slowly poison him".

The Tihar Jail authorities could not be reached for comment.

Immediately after the attack, Mr Sharma was admitted to the prison infirmary, before being moved to a private hospital on May 4. He was moved to the state-run hospital after his condition deteriorated.

Mr Sharma has repeatedly denied that he was present on December 16 last year when a group of men in a bus attacked a 23-year-old physiology student and her male companion. The two were beaten and the student was raped by six men before they were thrown from the bus.

The student died from her injuries in a Singapore hospital 13 days after the attack.

The attack on Mr Sharma follows the death of a co-defendant, Ram Singh, the bus driver, who was found hanged in his cell in March. The death was ruled a suicide. Three other men are on trial for the attack. The sixth defendant, a juvenile, is being tried in a separate court.

Mr Singh said Mr Sharma was beaten because he had claimed he was being "falsely implicated in this case".

"My client has proof that he was not on that bus the night of December 16," Mr Singh said. "He was attending a music festival that night."

The case led to widespread protests across India, and spurred the government to introduce tougher laws to punish those who commit violence against women.

Mr Sharma worked at a gym earning Dh367 a month and lived in the same neighbourhood as the bus driver and his brother Mukesh, another defendant in the case.

sbhattacharya@thenational.ae

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