Delhi rape: Ram Singh's body released after post mortem

Ram Singh Ram Singh's death in India's most secure jail is a huge embarrassment for the authorities

The body of an Indian man charged over the gang rape and murder of a Delhi student has been handed to his family after a post-mortem examination.

Ram Singh was found dead in his shared cell at Tihar jail on Monday.

Prison officials say they believe he hanged himself. Defence lawyers and his family allege he was murdered.

Mr Singh was one of five men being held in the case, which outraged India. They all deny the charges. A sixth suspect is being tried by a juvenile court.

India's home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the death was a major lapse in prison security. An investigation is under way.

'Murdered'

Mr Singh's body was released to his family at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Tuesday afternoon after his post-mortem. The results have not been released.

Case Timeline

  • 16 December 2012: Student gang raped on Delhi bus
  • 17 December: Bus driver Ram Singh and three others arrested
  • 18 December: Uproar in parliament, street protests in Delhi and elsewhere
  • 21-22 December: Two more arrests, including a minor
  • 29 December: Victim dies in Singapore hospital
  • 7 January 2013: Suspects charged in court with abduction, gang rape, murder
  • 21 January: Trial of five accused begins in special fast-track court
  • 2 February: Five accused plead not guilty
  • 28 February: Sixth accused charged in juvenile court
  • 11 March: Ram Singh found dead in Tihar jail

His body was loaded onto an ambulance and taken away by the family, reports said.

"My brother was murdered. I have seen injury marks on the body and finger marks on the throat," the Press Trust of India quoted his brother as saying.

Mr Singh's death has come as a huge embarrassment for the authorities who are already under enormous pressure over the case.

Tihar jail officials said Ram Singh appeared to have hanged himself with an improvised rope made from a blanket at about 05:00 local time on Monday (23:30 GMT Sunday) while his three cellmates were asleep.

Jail spokesman Sunil Gupta said Mr Singh had not been on suicide watch.

Ram Singh and the four other adult defendants - his brother Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur - have been on trial in a fast-track court. Reporting restrictions mean few details of the trial have been made public.

They accused face 13 charges, including murder, gang rape, kidnapping and destruction of evidence. If found guilty they could face the death penalty.

Ram Singh's mother and father outside their home in Delhi Ram Singh's parents say he was threatened in prison

The maximum sentence the juvenile would face if convicted would be three years in a reform facility.

The 23-year-old rape victim, who has not been named for legal reasons, was with a male friend when she was attacked on a bus and thrown from the vehicle on 16 December.

She died in a Singapore hospital on 29 December from massive internal injuries.

Ram Singh was accused of being the driver of the bus.

The case provoked nationwide protests and demands for tougher penalties for rapists, as well as greater protection for women.

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