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Friend first witness at trial

The father of the gang rape victim at the news conference in New Delhi. Picture by Yasir Iqbal

New Delhi, Feb. 5: The male friend of the 23-year-old student gang-raped in a Delhi bus arrived at the fast-track court today in a wheelchair to testify against five of the six accused, marking the start of the trial.

The 28-year-old friend, a software engineer, is the sole eyewitness in the case. The two had boarded the bus on the night of December 16 to go to Dwarka in south-west Delhi after watching a movie in a multiplex.

“The court summoned him as a prosecution witness and he testified. He also identified the bus in which the incident took place. His leg was seriously injured when the accused hit him with an iron rod,” said a senior police officer.

The six accused had beaten up the engineer before taking turns to rape the girl and brutalising her with an iron rod. The girl died of her injuries in a Singapore hospital on December 29. Her statement to the magistrate from hospital bed will be treated as a dying declaration.

Delhi police have sought the death penalty for the five accused who are on trial. The sixth, a minor, is being heard separately by the Juvenile Justice Board.

On Saturday, the special court had framed charges against the five accused after they pleaded not guilty.

At a news conference in the capital today, the girl’s father said he wanted the world to know his daughter as a braveheart and not as a rape victim, arguing that she “awoke the consciousness of the nation” by showing exemplary courage.

“We want death penalty for all the accused. We are hurt when she is called a gang rape victim as she should be called a braveheart and the daughter of the nation. She awoke the consciousness of the nation,” he said, addressing a joint news conference with Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta and South Delhi mayor Savita Gupta

He demanded the accused be sentenced to death and requested the media to respect their privacy. “I have not slept for the past three days. I don’t get time to sleep during the day because we keep getting media people at home,” he said.

Vijender Gupta announced that a science museum would be named after the girl.