Suspect in gang rape is juvenile

A juvenile court ruled yesterday that a suspect in the fatal gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi last month was a juvenile at the time of the attack.

A lawyer present in the court said a magistrate of the Juvenile Justice Board announced the decision after going over documents presented to the court by officials of the suspect’s elementary school that indicated that he was under 18 years of age at the time of the Dec 16 attack.

The lawyer said that the suspect’s school documents showed him to be about six months short of his 18th birthday at the time.

The suspect did not possess a birth certificate — a common occurrence in India where many babies are born at home and not in a hospital. In such cases, school records are often used as proof of age or identity.

The suspect, who is not being identified because of his age, could face three years in a reform facility if he is convicted as a juvenile. A conviction as an adult could have led to his execution.

Police say the 23-year-old victim and a male friend boarded the bus after seeing an evening movie. But the bus turned out to be off-duty and was being driven by a group of friends who, police say, attacked the couple and then took turns raping the woman. They also penetrated her repeatedly with a metal bar, causing massive internal injuries. The two were eventually dumped on the roadside. The woman died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.

Meanwhile, a fast-track court was separately hearing arguments yesterday in the trial of the five men charged with the attack.

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