Odisha gang-rape: Five months after chargesheet, trial yet to begin

Bhubaneswar, Jan 18 (IANS) A month after the Delhi gang-rape, the trial has been fast-tracked and is set to begin Monday. But the trial of the gang-rape and murder of a 19-year-old girl in Odisha's Puri district is yet to begin even five months after the chargesheet was filed, a lawyer here said.

The chargesheet, however, does not mention rape.

"The trial has not yet started. The court has fixed Jan 31 for framing charges," Sriprakash Mishra, a government lawyer at the Puri court, where the case would be tried, told IANS.

The court is expected to announce the date of the trial after that, he added.

The woman was gang-raped Nov 28, 2011, by some people near her village in Pipili, 10 km from here. She died June 21 last year in a government hospital in Cuttack, 26 km from here, after undergoing treatment for over six months.

The victim, who had slipped into a coma after the incident, had contracted septicemia and other complications and died of a heart attack.

The victim's family alleged that the rapists were the same people who had assaulted her in 2008 and against whom she had put up a determined fight in court in a molestation case.

The shocking incident had come to light last year when the girl was denied proper treatment at a hospital and some journalists reported about her.

It had created a political storm and nationwide outrage, prompting state Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy to resign Jan 19 last year on moral grounds after the opposition and the girl's family alleged that he had protected the attackers.

The incident was investigated by the Crime Branch of the state police and a one-man judicial commission headed by a retired judge of the Orissa High Court.

R.C. Sethi, a deputy superintendent of the crime branch police, who investigated the incident, said he had already filed four chargesheets in the case, including the final one last August.

Police had arrested four people in the case and a lie-detector test was conducted on them. Two of them were let off in the final chargesheet as there was no evidence against them, Sethi said.

Of the remaining two, one has been charged with murder and the other accused of giving death threats, Sethi told IANS.

In the chargesheet, however, the Crime Branch said, it did not find any mention of rape.

A police officer has been charged with not taking immediate action on the incident.

The investigating agency has also accused three doctors, including a hospital chief, of neglecting the girl's treatment.

The police officer and the doctors were not arrested.

The Justice P.K. Mohanty Commission, which is investigating the case, is yet to submit its report to the government.

(Jatin Dash can be contacted at jatin.d@ians.in)

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