Delhi Gang-Rape Defendant ‘Critical’ After Prison Attack, Poisoning Alleged

A man on trial over the fatal gang-rape of a woman in New Delhi last December is critically ill after being attacked in jail, just weeks after another defendant died in the same jail.

Four adults and a 17-year-old juvenile are accused of the gang rape of a 23-year-old student on December 16. She died 13 days later from massive injuries sustained during the attack after she was transferred to a Singapore hospital.

Vinay Sharma, 20, was rushed to New Delhi’s state-run Lok Nayak Hospital on Tuesday with chest injuries after he was assaulted in Tihar Jail, his lawyer A. P. Singh told Agence France-Presse.

He also alleges his client’s food has been poisoned while he has been in jail.

“He was vomiting blood and running a very high fever,” Singh told AFP. “He was also suffering from chest pains. He is in a very critical condition.”

The lawyer alleges Sharma’s chest pains were caused by his client being “beaten up and thrashed” by inmates at the maximum-security prison. Singh added that the vomiting symptoms are the result of the “slow poisoning” of his client’s food for several weeks.

“He [Sharma] was being given food mixed with poison since the start of this month,” Singh said.”He was first admitted to the clinic inside the jail but was later moved to a city hospital. He was shifted again to another hospital when his condition worsened.”

Back in March, one of the co-defendants in the gang-rape case, bus driver Ram Singh, was found hanged in his cell in the same prison. A later inquest ruled he had committed suicide, while his lawyers maintain that he was murdered.

The remaining defendants (five remain of the original six), all have entered not-guilty pleas while their lawyers have accused police of torturing the defendants to secure confessions.

Prosecutors in the case say DNA evidence links the defendants to the attack in which the female student and her male friend were assaulted on a bus, after a trip to the cinema.

The case triggered widespread protests in India amid calls for wholesale reform of existing rape laws and security protocols for women and girls. The student who died in the attack became known as “Braveheart” and was posthumously honored with an International Woman of Courage Award in March.

The family of the student has demanded the death penalty for those accused.

AFP reports that Singh said the judge at a special fast-track New Delhi court has dismissed his plea that Sharma be granted bail on “humanitarian grounds,” but has allowed the accused man’s family permission to visit him in hospital.