Mumbai, March 20 IANS | 9 months ago

A Mumbai court Thursday found five people guilty of two gang-rape cases in July-August last year in the Shakti Mills Complex here, officials said.

The five were held guilty in the gang-rape of a woman photojournalist Aug 22 and a call centre employee July 31 last year. Both the crimes were committed in the same premises.

Principal Sessions Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi will pronounce the quantum of sentence in both the cases Friday.

Home Minister R.R. Patil, who was present in the sessions court hearing Thursday, hailed the verdict and called it as the 'Nirbhaya' case of Mumbai, referring to the December 2012 brutal gang-rape of a physiotherapy student in Delhi.

"The judgment has been delivered in a record time. Mumbai prides itself in being a city safe for women. This verdict will be a deterrent (to sex offenders)... We welcome the verdict," Patil told mediapersons after the ruling.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said he would seek the maximum punishment for all three -- Vijay Jadhav, 19; Qasim Hafiz Sheikh alias Bengali, 21; Mohammed Salim Ansari, 28 -- who were found guilty in both cases.

Besides, a fourth accused, Siraj Khan, 21, was found guilty in the gang-rape of the photojournalist and Ashfaque Sheikh, 26, was found guilty in the gang-rape of the call centre employee.

At least one minor involved in both cases is being tried separately by a juvenile court.

The first case pertains to a 23-year old photojournalist who was working as a trainee with an English magazine and was gang-raped by five youths, including a minor, when she and a male colleague had gone to the Shakti mills compound for an assignment.

The second case about a 19-year old call centre employee, who was gang-raped in the same premises July 31, came to light after she recognized the perpetrators of the crime from the pictures flashed by the police in the photojournalist's case.

The accused were found guilty under Sections 376 (D) for gang-rape and other sections pertaining to wrongful restraint, criminal intimidation, conspiracy, common intention, unnatural sex, and sections of the Information Technology Act as the attackers had also made a video clip of the incident.

Following a nationwide uproar, the Mumbai police nabbed the accused within three days after the Aug 22 incident and filed a 600-page-plus chargesheet against them.

A few weeks after the incident, the Mumbai police and civic authorities cleared the desolate Shakti Mills complex and beefed up security in the vicinity.

(Posted on 20-03-2014)

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