22 January 2013

Rwanda: Trial of Rwandan Students in India Pushed to Feb

Photo: This Day
Symbol of justice.

The trial of the three Rwandan university students arrested in India, on January 2, for allegedly using vulgar words against an Indian woman, has been pushed to February.

The trio appeared in court last Thursday and "pleaded not guilty to all charges," according to a statement e-mailed to The New Times on Sunday by Rwanda's High Commission to India.

They are scheduled to appear in court again on February 27 when prosecution is expected to present and argue the case against them.

"There is a possibility, however, that the case might be settled out of court. According to their lawyer, the Indian legal system provides for such a route," reads part of the statement from the High Commission.

At the pre-trial hearing, last Thursday, the three students were accompanied by their lawyer, a diplomat from the Rwanda High Commission and many Rwandan students from Lovely Professional University.

According to the High Commission, during consultations with the students in the presence of the Rwandan diplomat, "It was agreed that the lawyer should initiate mediation efforts so that the case may be settled out of court."

"He [the lawyer] hopes to accomplish this before the court date. Failure will mean the case will be argued in court with resultant prolonged and costly judicial processes."

The students allegedly committed the offence in Jalandhar, a city in the north-western Indian state of Punjab. On the evening of January 5, they were released on US$1,200 cash bail.

The students were charged with "eve-teasing" or the use of vulgar language against a lady.

The New Times was not able to reach Subbash Sharma, a lawyer representing the students, but he is reportedly optimistic of a positive outcome from the trial.

The trio reportedly maintain their innocence, arguing that claims against them by Ms Ashish Sharma, 35, a single mother, are untrue. They say they met Sharma as she walked on the street at around 4:00pm and asked her for directions to a location they were looking for only to be arrested half an hour later by Police officers.

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