One of the world's most respected spiritual leaders has asked that mercy be shown in the case of the men accused of last month's brutal gang rape and murder of a woman on a bus in New Delhi.
During a panel discussion this week at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival in Jaipur, India, His Holiness the Dalai Lama touched on the controversial trial that began Thursday in the bustling Indian city.
The five men on trial could be hanged if they are convicted, according to the Associated Press. The family of the 23-year-old victim, who succumbed to her injuries two weeks after the attack, have called for the execution of all the accused. But the Dalai Lama, during his appearance at the Jaipur festival, demurred.
“I do not like the death sentence,” he said, adding that there are other ways to deal with the alleged perpetrators, according to English-language Indian news outlet the Hindu.
The Hindu went on to write that "the Dalai Lama said the 21 century belonged to dialogue and not to confrontation or violence."
The Tibetan leader has been a steadfast opponent of the death penalty, which contradicts the Buddhist philosophy of nonviolence. In July 2011, the Dalai Lama, then 76 years old, traveled to Chicago, where he praised Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn for abolishing the death penalty in his state.
The Delhi rape case has sparked debate over the Indian legal system, and public anger has been directed at officials in a city informally christened India's "rape capital," according to Reuters.
A Indian government panel this week dismissed calls to allow the death penalty to be considered in cases of sexual assault, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The panel's decision does not have bearing on the Delhi case, as the suspects are also accused of murder, a charge that can carry the death penalty.
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