New Delhi, 23 Rabiul Awwal 1434/ 4 February 2013 (MINA) – Five men involved in the New Delhi gang rape and murder of a female student traveling on a bus have pleaded not guilty after being formally charged, according to Press TV report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA), Monday.
The men entered the courtroom on Saturday with their face covered. They have been formally indicted on 13 charges including rape, murder, kidnapping and destroying evidence.
According to one of their lawyers, the men have signed statements in the fast-track court saying they were innocent of all the charges. The identity of the lawyer has been hidden under a gag order imposed by the court.
The next court date is set on Tuesday for witnesses testimonies.
Prosecutors claim they have strong evidence including DNA samples, phone records, confessions and eye-witness statements against the men and are planning on calling three witnesses at the start of the trial.
If convicted, the five men could face death penalty. The sixth suspect who is a minor will be tried in a juvenile court and could face a maximum sentence of three years in a reform facility.
The victim and a male friend were attacked after boarding a bus on December 16, 2012. The accused men, who were the only passengers on the bus, beat the man with a metal bar and then raped the woman. Afterwards the victims were thrown out of the moving bus. The woman later died of brain damage and massive internal injuries at a hospital in Singapore on December 29, 2012.
The horrific nature of the crime shocked Indians, who thronged the streets, demanding protection for women and capital punishment for rape, which currently carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The father of the victim has also called for capital punishment for the rapists, saying, “It is the duty of the court and the judges to ensure that the final order to punish all the accused is handed down quickly and all the men are hanged. No man has the right to live after committing such a heinous crime.” (T.P06/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)