Like Ram, Shinji did not give evidence at the trial. This tactic may well have been more for Ram’s benefit than for his own. There is no suggestion by any of the prosecution witnesses that Shinji participated in Ram’s frenzied knife attack on Clarke, and of course there is no way that he could have realised what Ram was about to do. This was not a situation where he could have been charged on the basis of joint enterprise. *
Although not facing a murder charge, Shinji did find himself in some trouble. His later act of crass stupidity - signing bail at a police station while carrying a flick knife - earned him an eighteen month sentence. This may sound unduly harsh merely for carrying an offensive weapon, but under the circumstances a heavy sentence was to be expected. The main charge against him though was that of harbouring Ram. One can sympathise with him for refusing to “grass up a mate”, to lapse into the vernacular, but if he had given evidence in his own defence he could have been cross-examined on the events in the restaurant, which means that under peril of perjury he would have had to destroy Ram’s already wafer thin chance of acquittal.
To his credit, Shinji has not added his voice to the chorus of liars that have been bleating the refrain “Satpal Ram is innocent” for the past decade and more.
March 12, 2001
* Where all the members of a gang are held responsible for the actions of one or several members.
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