India court says Uber driver's lawyers can recall witnesses for rape case

Indian lawyer Alok Dwivedi (centre), who represents Uber taxi driver Shiv Kumar Yadav, who has been accused of the rape of a female passenger, speaks to media outside the Tis Hazari District court in New Delhi on Jan 15, 2015. An Indian court on
Indian lawyer Alok Dwivedi (centre), who represents Uber taxi driver Shiv Kumar Yadav, who has been accused of the rape of a female passenger, speaks to media outside the Tis Hazari District court in New Delhi on Jan 15, 2015. An Indian court on Wednesday agreed to let lawyers for the Uber taxi driver charged with raping a passenger re-examine 13 witnesses including the alleged victim. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - An Indian court on Wednesday agreed to let lawyers for the Uber taxi driver charged with raping a passenger re-examine 13 witnesses including the alleged victim.

Lawyers for Shiv Kumar Yadav had argued that the 32-year-old driver would not get a fair trial unless the witnesses were recalled because the original cross-examinations were "incompetent".

Yadav has appointed a new defence lawyer, Dharmendra Kumar Mishra, since the original cross-examinations.

"So many questions that shouldn't have been asked were asked and vice-versa," Mishra told AFP.

He said the defence had asked to re-examine all 28 prosecution witnesses. But the court only gave the go-ahead for 13, including "the main complainant in this case".

Yadav denies raping a 25-year-old woman after picking her up in his cab in New Delhi last December as she returned home from a dinner.

Uber was banned from the Indian capital after the alleged attack on Dec 5, which intensified concerns over women's safety in a city with a bad record of sexual violence.

Uber, which connects passengers to drivers through smartphone apps, last month said it was resuming its Delhi operations, although authorities have not approved its licence application.

The case is being tried in one of the special fast-track courts introduced in 2013 following the fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in Delhi, a crime that shocked the nation.

Yadav has pleaded not guilty to charges of rape, kidnap and criminal intimidation.

The court said his lawyers should not repeat any of the questions asked in their original cross-examinations, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.