Police may appeal decision to try New Delhi rape suspect as juvenile

Featured India - January 29th, 2013

The sixth suspect allegedly involved in the gang rape of a young student in New Delhi will be tried as a juvenile, a special panel has ruled.

A juvenile board, comprising a magistrate and two child welfare activists, said it accepted school records showing the suspect was born on June 4, 1995. The 17-year old face a maximum of three years in a juvenile detention center if convicted.

The teenager has not yet been formally charged because police were hoping he would be declared as an adult and could include him in the main trial of the five men in a special fast-track court, Reuters reports.

Police, who believe the suspect is older than 17, said they could appeal against the board’s ruling that a bone density test to determine his age was not necessary.

This comes as protesters and some authorities called for the age at which people can be tried as adults to be lowered to 16 from 18 amid simmering public outrage over sexual crimes in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, lawyers for the five accused men said they would plead not guilty while one has accused police of torturing him, his lawyer said, as the trial opened in a special fast-track court on Monday.

The defendants’ lawyers presented arguments for the first time on Monday in a pre-trial hearing that will determine what charges the five men will face, according to the Financial Times.