India Gang-Rape Trial Begins

Posted January 21st, 2013 at 9:10 am (UTC-5)
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The trial of five men accused of the brutal rape and murder of a 23-year old student in New Delhi has begun in a fast-track court for crimes against women.

The start of the trial on Monday was delayed by more than an hour as defense lawyers argued that it should be open to the media and public. The judge rejected the motion. Arguments in the case will begin on Thursday.

Defense lawyers of two of the five accused say their clients will plead not guilty. They say the men were tortured by the police to coerce confessions.

Prosecutors say DNA evidence, cellphone records and the testimony of the victim will prove their case. A senior prosecutor has said he will seek the death penalty for the five men. A sixth suspect claims to be a juvenile and is being tried separately.

India's Supreme Court will rule Tuesday on an appeal from one of the five accused to move the trial out of New Delhi, on the grounds that he cannot receive a fair hearing in the city where the December 16 attack took place.

The special fast-track court was established to circumvent India's notoriously slow justice system.

The expedited proceedings in this specific case are in response to public outrage over the brutality of the attack. The defendants are accused of beating the woman and her male companion with an iron rod and using the rusty rod during the sexual assault of the woman.

The unidentified victim died of her internal injuries on December 29 in a Singapore hospital, where she had been taken for treatment.

The woman's rape and death sparked outrage across the country. Protesters have called for tougher rape laws, major police reforms and a transformation in the way India treats women.