In Depth

Delhi gang-rape 'ringleader' dies in cell: was it suicide or murder?

Foul play suspected in 'suicide' of Ram Singh who faced death penalty for medical student's rape and murder

RAM SINGH, the bus driver accused of leading the gang-rape and murder of a young medical student in Delhi last December, has been found dead in his cell this morning at the high-security Tihar jail. First reports suggested he had hanged himself using his own clothing and a prison blanket. As The Guardian reported, there was instant condemnation of prison authorities for allowing him the chance to kill himself.

But there are new reports saying Singh was not alone in his cell and that others may have intervened in his death. "Singh was not alone in the cell," a source told the Times of India. "Other inmates were present and a guard was also posted". The paper says it is "unlikely" that Singh would have been able to kill himself "without any intervention". Singh's lawyer has also claimed foul play, saying his client was killed. Another member of the 34-year-old's defence team said Singh had been tortured in prison, while his family insists that a serious arm injury meant he would have been unable to hang himself on his own. Singh was one of five adults accused of the brutal gang-rape. The young woman, who had taken the bus with a male friend after visiting the cinema, was repeatedly raped during the hour-long attack and died later from her injuries.

The trial of the five men began last month in a special fast-track court and a verdict was expected within weeks. Singh, the ringleader, faced the death penalty. It is not clear what impact his death will have on the trial of the other four. The family of the 23-year-old rape victim said they were "surprised but not sad" at the news of Singh’s death. "I wanted him to be hanged... publicly. Him dying on his own terms seems unfair," her brother told Reuters.

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