India rape case: Defence arguments heard

2013-01-28 14:05
Indian women shout slogans during a protest march against gender discrimination and sexual violence in New Delhi, India. (Altaf Qadri, AP)

Indian women shout slogans during a protest march against gender discrimination and sexual violence in New Delhi, India. (Altaf Qadri, AP)

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New Delhi - Lawyers for five men accused of the gang-rape and killing of a 23-year-old student opened their defence arguments in a fast-track court in New Delhi on Monday.

The pre-trial hearings began last week with prosecutors laying charges of murder, rape, kidnapping, destruction of evidence and other offences against the suspects.

The defence was to "ask the court to remove most of the charges including murder, because there is no evidence", said VK Anand, a lawyer who represents two accused, before the proceedings.

"Even the post-mortem report does not mention the cause of death," he said.

The trial proper is expected to begin after the defence and prosecution conclude their respective arguments and the court finalises the charges, a process known as "framing of charges".

Also on Monday, a board was expected to decide whether a sixth suspect is a minor or should be tried as an adult, local news reports said.

The victim was beaten with an iron rod and raped in a moving bus in the Indian capital on 16 December. She died in a hospital in Singapore two weeks later.

The attack triggered weeks of protests by thousands of people in New Delhi and other Indian cities, demanding faster trials and harsher sentences in cases of rape and sexual crimes.

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