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South African woman withdraws rape charges against judge

Last updated on: January 22, 2004 22:46 IST

A 27-year-old South African AIDS activist on Thursday withdrew rape charges against her compatriot and high court judge Sirajuddin Mohammed Ibrahim Desai currently lodged in a Mumbai jail.

In a signed statement faxed to PTI, the woman said, "I hereby wish unconditionally to withdraw the allegation of rape against Mr Siraj Desai. I have instructed my attorneys Sihlali Molefe Incorporated to attend the legal processes involved in ensuring that this withdrawal is speedily and properly communicated to the Indian authorities."

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The woman had come to Mumbai as a member of a South African delegation along with Desai to take part in the World Social Forum meeting. She had alleged that Desai had raped her in the wee hours of January 18 when she went to his hotel room to discuss the day's programmes. Desai was arrested on January 18.

"Since lodging my complaint with the Indian police, I have had occasion to reflect on my own the events which took place after 3am at the Taj President Hotel on January 18. I have also now had time to discuss the matter with my husband, our legal representatives and a few close friends and confidantes," she said.

"I wish to thank all those friends, family and even strangers who have given me support throughout this ordeal, which I can only describe as confusing and overwhelming.

"I wish to single out Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela for her motherly and sisterly support and compassion. We cannot pay her but South Africa needs to know the extreme kindness and compassion she has shown to us. We thank her for that."

She also expressed her love and gratitude to her husband Mark who she said was 'truly a gift from God'. Without his unwavering support, this 'correct' move would have been extremely difficult. She hopes to return to normal family life and job and put this matter behind as soon as possible.

In Mumbai, Desai's lawyer C S Hirani said he would plead for the discharge of the accused when he would be produced before a magistrate on Friday for remand. Desai's bail application filed in a sessions court would then become redundant.

Hirani said he is yet to receive any statement from the victim or her attorneys.

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