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Webcam case: US judge refuses to drop charges

March 09, 2012 20:09 IST
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A United States judge has refused to drop some of the charges including invasion of privacy, against an Indian-origin student, who is on trial for spying on his roommate's intimate encounter with another man.

Lawyers for Dharun Ravi, 20 had requested Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman to dismiss nine of the 15 criminal counts against Ravi, like intimidation charges and hindering apprehension charges.

Berman said he would not dismiss any of the charges against Ravi. Ravi's lawyers Philip Nettl and Steven Altman had sought the dismissal of the charges after the prosecution rested its case on Thursday.

Nettl said the charge against Ravi for the invasion of privacy and intimidation should be dismissed because Ravi did not purposely view his roommate Tyler Clementi's partner 'MB' or attempt to intimidate him but had set up the camera as he was worried MB might steal his iPad.

Nettl added that MB was never mentioned in a Twitter post or in any messages Ravi sent but was only mentioned as a "dude" in a tweet. Berman said Ravi still saw MB regardless of whether he intended to, so the charge of invasion of privacy would stand.

On the charges of bias intimidation, Berman said several student witnesses testified that Ravi was uncomfortable with having a gay roommate, which can have two meanings -- a  lack of comfort or a bias toward an individual.

Ravi faces charges including two invasion of privacy charges, two attempted invasion of privacy charges, seven charges of hindering apprehension and witness tampering and four bias intimidation charges for intimidating Clementi and his guest, MB.

Ravi's lawyers will begin their defence in the case on Friday and are expected to call character witnesses and investigators to the stand.

Altman has said Ravi could also testify in his own defence in the spying case. Altman said he expects to call eight or nine character witnesses, including members of Ravi's family and friends. The prosecution had rested their case after calling over

24 witnesses and presenting about 100 pieces of physical evidence. The jurors were shown a video of Ravi being questioned by the police after Clementi committed suicide.

In the video, Ravi admitted he had invaded the privacy of his roommate by spying on him through the webcam. The prosecution also presented as evidence text messages that Ravi had exchanged with his friends inviting them to view Clementi's intimate encounters with MB through their webcams.

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