15 convicted of rape, attempt to kill TN schoolgirl in 2018
A special court here on Saturday convicted 15 men, including security guards, electricians, and plumbers, of raping an 11-year-old hearing-impaired girl for six months inside a gated community in Chennai in 2018.
Special judge RN Manjula acquitted one of the accused, Gunasekar, 55, a gardener, for the want of evidence. Another accused, Babu, a lift operator, died of illness during the pendency of the case.
The 15 other accused were found guilty of sexually abusing and raping the hearing-impaired minor schoolgirl. The trial court held that the prosecution had proved the charges against 15 of the 16 accused beyond any reasonable doubt. Manjula will pronounce their sentences on Monday.
The convicts, Ravikumar, 56, Suresh, 32, Rajasekar, 40, Erald Bross, 58, Sukumaran, 65, Abhishek, 23, Murugesu, 54, Paramasivam, 60, Palani, 40, Jayaganesh, 28, Deenadayalan, 50, Jayaraman, 26, Surya, 23, Raja, 30, and Umapathy, 42, were also charged with Indian Penal Code’s Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 506 (ii) (criminal intimidation). They were booked under Sections 5, 6, 9 and 10 (aggravated penetrative sexual assault), 12 (sexual assault) under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act
“Of the 15, who have been convicted, Ravikumar, Suresh, Abishek and Palani might get capital punishment or life imprisonment as they have found guilty under relevant sections of the IPC and POCSO,” public prosecutor N Ramesh told journalists.
The sexual abuse of the 11-year-old came to light In July 2018 and provoked outrage.
According to the charge-sheet filed in the case, the convicts filmed the girl’s sexual abuse and blackmailed her.
The girl’s parents filed a police complaint after she narrated her ordeal to her elder sister. In their police complaint, they said the girl was gang-raped, filmed and threatened with the elimination of her family if she complained.
The accused tried to delay the trial by moving the high court (WHEN), seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation probe and then accusing the special judge of being biased. But the high court dismissed their petitions.
The trial in the case commenced in January 2019 and the prosecution produced 120 witnesses.
A group of lawyers thrashed the accused when they were produced in the Saidapet Mahila court amid public anger and shock over the child’s abuse in 2018. They were dragged from a staircase, beaten and kicked while police personnel struggled to protect the accused.
HT in July 2018 reported police found a 66-year-old lift operator first sexually assaulted the girl after she returned from school and was cycling around and later several others joined in the assault.
He allegedly invited other men who filmed each other raping the child. The accused took the girl to various places in the gated complex including the basement, terrace, gym, and public restrooms to rape her.
The abuse came to light amid a series of rape cases involving minors in the country.