Gang-rape accused to plead not guilty
Three of the men accused of raping and murdering an Indian student in a case that has provoked widespread anger with the government and police will plead not guilty, their lawyer said, citing lapses in the police investigation.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy student died two weeks after being beaten and gang-raped on a moving bus in New Delhi, before being thrown bleeding on to the street. Protests followed, along with a fierce public debate over the failure of authorities to stem violence against women.
Five men are facing various charges, including murder, rape and abduction. A sixth suspect is being investigated separately to determine if he is below the age of 18, as he says he is.
Lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma, who is representing the bus driver, the main accused; his brother; and another man, said he was keen for the case to go to trial so that the evidence police had presented could be tested in court.
"We will plead not guilty. We want this to go to trial," Mr Sharma said. "We are only hearing what the police are saying. This is manipulated evidence. It's all on the basis of hearsay and presumption."
It is not known if the other two of the five accused men have a lawyer.
Mr Sharma said the police had rushed through the investigation against the five men even when they were not ready with the key detail of the age of the sixth member of the group, who lured the woman and a male friend into the bus and, according to leaked accounts, was the most brutal in the attack.
For days after their arrest, none of the men had a lawyer. Legal experts had said a lack of representation for the suspects could give grounds for appeal if they were found guilty. Convictions in similar cases have often been overturned years later.