Two more alleged accused were acquitted in the 18-year-old Vithura case in which a minor girl was abducted and raped. The victim could not identify any of the accused due to delayed trial.
The victim, now married and mother of a child, appeared in 22 cases separately reliving her traumatic days over last one year at the special sessions court in Kottayam. Trial in seven other cases are pending as a magistrate court in Kochi is yet to be committed to the special court. The accused in another case, tried in 2007, was also acquitted.
On Tuesday, when the verdict in the last of the first batch of 15 cases was pronounced, the court let free two accused in the case, reported in 1995. So far, the court has acquitted 20, including some politicians and bureaucrats. The victim had given statements against alleged assailants, but during trial she could not identify anyone.
Special public prosecutor C P Udayabhanu said the victim could not recognize any accused. In sexual assault cases, a victim has to identify the rapist. The delayed trial denied justice for the victim.
He said the case was registered in 1996 and prosecution proceedings began in 1997. The accused one after the other moved the High Court and the Supreme Court delaying proceedings. The woman had started a new life. She was far away from the trauma she had undergone at the age of 16, said Udayabhanu.
Early last year, when the special court began trial, the woman pleaded the court to club together the 15 cases to minimize the ordeal of facing the assailants and cross-examinations of respondents’ counsel.