Uber Delhi 'rape': India court begins driver's trial

Indian police escort Uber taxi driver and accused rapist Shiv Kumar Yadav (C) following his court appearance in New Delhi on December 8, 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Uber driver Shiv Kumar Yadav (centre) was arrested last month and is in jail

An Indian driver from the web-based taxi firm Uber has gone on trial in Delhi charged with the rape of a passenger last month.

Shiv Kumar Yadav has also been charged with "criminal intimidation" and kidnapping. He has pleaded not guilty.

A 26-year-old woman alleges she was taken to a secluded area and raped after booking a journey home with Uber.

Delhi later banned Uber and several other web-based taxi firms for failing to carry out adequate driver checks.

On the first day of the trial, the victim made a statement to the judge and formally identified the driver as her attacker, AFP news agency quoted prosecutor Atul Shrivastava as saying.

"She gave her statement confidently. She saw the man and immediately said: 'He is the person'," Mr Shrivastava told reporters outside court.

"She appeared angry, obviously. If someone curses you, you would be angry. Imagine her situation - that anger is more than justified."

The defence lawyers said they would cross-examine the victim on Friday.

Journalists were not allowed inside the court and there is a bar on reporting the victim's statement.

Uber, which now operates in more than 50 countries since being founded in California in 2009, has faced a range of challenges in recent months:

  • Taxi drivers allege Uber has an unfair advantage and stage road-block protests and strikes in cities across the world
  • Regulatory problems and legal challenges to its business model lead to national bans in Thailand and Spain, and local bans in India, Germany and the US
  • Two Uber drivers charged with sex assault in US city of Chicago in separate incidents
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Parisian taxi drivers blocked roads in their dispute with Uber

Uber has defended the way it checked drivers, and said it would have completed about two million background checks by the end of 2014.

The company has also apologised for the incident in Delhi and acknowledged that it "must do better".

On Tuesday, when Mr Yadav was charged, police said they intended to produce more than 40 prosecution witnesses.

India's legal system is notoriously slow, and cases can go on for years.

But Mr Yadav faces trial before a fast-track court, established specifically to deal with crimes against women.

The BBC's Shilpa Kannan in Delhi says the case is now expected to be heard on a daily basis.

The fast-track hearings were introduced after the global outrage over the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus in Delhi in December 2012.

India also introduced tougher laws on sexual violence, but correspondents say they have failed to act as a deterrent.

Earlier this month, five men were arrested in Calcutta suspected of kidnapping and repeatedly raping a Japanese student.

And in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, two policemen were arrested for allegedly abducting and raping a teenager.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites