Delhi rape: Court rules suspect to be tried as juvenile

One of the suspects in last month’s fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student which shocked India is a minor, a court has ruled.

The Juvenile Justice Board said it accepted the accused’s date of birth as 4 June 1995, making him 17 years old. He will be tried in a juvenile court.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of three years in a reform facility.

Five other accused are on trial for the crime at a specially convened fast-track court and face the death penalty.

The case has shocked India and sparked a debate about its treatment of women.

A lawyer present in the court said a magistrate announced the decision after going over documents presented to the court by officials of the suspect’s elementary school, which indicated that he was a juvenile at the time of the attack, Associated Press reported.

The physiotherapy student, who cannot be named in India for legal reasons, and a male friend were attacked on a bus in south Delhi on 16 December.

Police said the assailants beat both of them, and then raped the woman. She suffered massive internal injuries and died nearly two weeks later in hospital.

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Official data ‘masking suicides’

Suicide rates in England and Wales may be higher than officially stated because the way coroners record deaths has evolved, research suggests.

Academics say narrative verdicts, which describe the circumstances surrounding a death, make it more difficult for statisticians to identify suicides than traditional inquest recordings.

The Office for National Statistics says 4,648 people took their lives in 2009.

It says it is confident in data showing rates falling but is reviewing methods.

Coroners argue that their legal duties remain unchanged and that they require a high standard of proof to record a suicide.

Most of the 30,000 inquests conducted each year in England and Wales are concluded with traditional short-form verdicts, such as death by unlawful killing, accident or natural causes.

But narrative verdicts have grown in use – from 111 in 2001, to 3,012 in 2009 – often as a result of coroners raising matters of public concern, such as inadequacies in the procedures of a hospital or care home where someone has died.

 

 

‘Misleading evaluation’

However, the University of Bristol’s Prof David Gunnell says these verdicts make it difficult for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to classify deaths.

“As the use of narrative verdicts rises, so too may the underestimation of suicide,” he wrote in an editorial in the British Medical Journal, with colleagues from the Universities of Oxford and Manchester.

This could lead to misleading evaluation of national and local suicide prevention strategies and a masking of the effects of economic difficulties on suicide rates, they suggest.

“Furthermore… suicide rates may (falsely) seem to decline in areas served by coroners who make most use of such verdicts,” they add.

While coroners must be sure of intent to be able to record suicide verdicts, statisticians use less stringent criteria to identify when someone has killed themself.

The academics note that in verdicts containing phrases like “deceased took his own life with an accidental overdose”, intent is not mentioned.

But despite suicide being strongly implied, the ONS might class it as an accident.

Some coroners may also give short-form verdicts in the belief that this avoids adding to a family’s distress, Prof Gunnell suggests.

While the ONS is reviewing its coding of narrative verdicts, a spokesman said it was confident “the overall picture of current suicide trends shown by national statistics is reliable”.

However, he added: “The variation in practice by different coroners means that local figures could be less reliable. We are working with coroners, and others concerned, to resolve these issues.”

If suicide is proved, no other conclusion is considered” Andre Rebello Coroner

Sara Ege: Life jail for son’s murder over Koran studies

A mother who beat her seven-year-old son to death when he failed to memorise passages from the Koran has been jailed for life, for a minimum of 17 years.

The judge told Sara Ege, 33, she subjected Yaseen Ege to prolonged cruelty and a ferocious beating at home in Pontcanna, Cardiff, in July 2010.

She also set fire to his body, and was convicted after a five-week trial.

Ege collapsed as the sentence was read out at Cardiff Crown Court and had to be helped from the dock.

“This prolonged cruelty culminated on the day of his death in what was a savage attack” said Mr Justice Wyn Williams Cardiff Crown Court

She was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice and given a four-year sentence for that crime.

Her husband Yousuf Ege, a taxi driver, was cleared of allowing the death of a child by failing to protect him.

Sara Ege had pleaded not guilty to murder and claimed her husband was responsible for Yaseen’s death.

‘Prolonged cruelty’

Mr Justice Wyn Williams said: “I am satisfied that it was his failure to learn the Koran that day that resulted in the beating that caused his death.”

He continued: “On the day of Yaseen’s death you had kept him home from school so he could devote himself to his study of the Koran.

“He was memorising passages but on that day Yaseen must have failed in some way and it was that which was a trigger for the beating.

“You killed your own son. At the time of the killing he was particularly vulnerable because of his age and because of his relative physical frailty.

“In killing your son you abused a precious relationship of trust which does and should exist between a parent and a child.”

After the sentencing, a serious case review was published, making seven recommendations for improvements, and said domestic violence involving the family had first been reported in 2003, and again in 2007.

But the review said while lessons could be learned, Yaseen’s death could not have been predicted.

The judge said she had beaten him for three months leading up to his death, adding: “The cause of the beating was your unreasonable view that he wasn’t learning passages quickly enough.

“The violence Yaseen suffered was not confined to the day of his death.”

“For three months you beat him often with a wooden pestle and I’m confident these beatings left him in a significant amount of pain.

“This prolonged cruelty culminated on the day of his death in what was a savage attack. You then set fire to his body in an attempt to evade responsibility for what you had done.

“I accept you were a devoted and caring mum. Except for the obsession with Yaseen learning you did many fine things to bring him up as a young boy.”

Egypt crisis: Mass rally held against Mohammed Mursi

Tens of thousands of people have held protests in Cairo against Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi, who last week granted himself sweeping new powers.

Flag-waving demonstrators chanted slogans accusing the president and the Muslim Brotherhood of betraying last year’s revolution.

On Monday Mr Mursi sought to defuse the crisis by saying the decree granting him new powers was limited in scope.

However, his opponents want him to withdraw the measure completely.

Ahead of Tuesday’s rally, opposition activists clashed with police protecting the nearby US embassy. A protester, who was in his fifties, died of a heart attack after inhaling tear gas.

Activists later converged on Tahrir Square – the main focus of the revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak – for one of the largest demonstrations to date against Mr Mursi.

“The people want to bring down the regime,” marchers chanted, echoing slogans used in last year’s protests.

“We don’t want a dictatorship again. The Mubarak regime was a dictatorship. We had a revolution to have justice and freedom,” protester Ahmed Husseini was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Journalists, lawyers and opposition figures – including Nobel Peace prize laureate Mohammed ElBaradei- joined Tuesday’s rally,

“The main demand is to withdraw the constitutional declaration,” said Amr Moussa, a former Arab League chief who has joined the opposition.

Protests were also held in Alexandria and other cities.

‘Sovereign’ matters

The president’s decree – known as the constitutional declaration – said no authority could revoke his decisions.

There is a bar on judges dissolving the assembly drawing up a new constitution. The president is also authorised to take any measures to preserve the revolution, national unity or safeguard national security.

Critics say the decree, issued last Thursday, is an attack on the judiciary. It has sparked violent protests across the country.

On Monday Mr Mursi told senior judges that the scope of the measure would be restricted to “sovereign matters”, designed to protect institutions.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which supports President Mursi, said it was postponing its own demonstration, originally due on Tuesday, to avoid “public tension”.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo says the postponement is another sign that the government wants to defuse confrontation, but it remains to be seen whether it ends the days of angry and sometimes violent protests.

Egypt’s union of judges, known as the Judges Club, rejected the president’s statement, calling it “worthless” and said they would continue to suspend work in courts.