Indians in New Zealand rape case not guilty, to be deported

Wellington, May 30 (IANS) Three Indians accused of raping a woman in Hamilton two years ago have been found not guilty by a jury in New Zealand Thursday and will be deported to India.

A jury of seven women and five men in the high court of Hamilton found Harvinder Singh, 22, Kamaljeet Singh, 27, and Sumit Vermani, 26 not guilty in the rape case that allegedly took place in a house on a road leading to Lake Rotorua on the intervening night of April 16-17, 2011, media reports said.

The judge ruled that the men had treated the woman as an object of sexual gratification while one man admitted he had consensual sex with her.

Vermani’s lawyer, Mike Robb, was quoted by as saying that at the instruction of the New Zealand immigration department, the trio would be deported to India.

A fourth accused, Amir Chand, 25, was acquitted without conviction May 24 and has been deported to India.

The woman, whose nationality has not been revealed, had claimed that the four men raped her during the Hamilton 400 weekend, the V8 supercar racing event that took place on the streets of that New Zealand city.

While Amir Chand, Harvinder and Sumit are from Hamilton, Kamaljeet is from Kaitkati town in New Zealand’s North Island.

Prosecutor Philip Crayton had said the woman, who was aged 19 at the time of the incident, was drinking with a friend near the Waikato Stadium near Hamilton where the ZZ Top group was performing.

The two then went to a Pak N Save shop on Mill Street where they met a 16-year-old girl from the US.

The duo then asked the 16-year-old to accompany them to the city and the three started walking across the Pak N Save parking space.

It was then that a car driven by Chand with Vermani in the passenger seat pulled up beside the trio.

The men then asked the trio to get in the car.

The alleged victim said that she had initially declined to get in but since their 16-year-old friend knew the men, they eventually got in.

However, she said she got worried when the car, instead of heading towards the city, started taking the road to Lake Rotoroa.

She said she and her friends were taken to a house on Lake Road where she alleged she was raped first by Chand and then by the other three men.

After Thursday’s ruling, Harvinder, Kamaljeet and Vermani were handcuffed and taken to the Hamilton Central Police Station.

As the men had been charged with rape and subsequently had to face a trial, they could not apply for residency and hence will be deported to India.

According to the reports, the jury had retired Thursday morning after being told by Justice Venning that the definition of consent was crucial in this particular case and took four hours before reaching their verdicts.

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